Wireless Access Increases Sales, Access to Fresh Foods

Farmer’s markets across the state receive grant to purchase wireless payment equipment

Farmer's market sign: we accept market tokensSPRINGFIELD, Illinois – September 7, 2012. More Illinois families will have access to affordable, local produce thanks to a federal grant that will double the amount of farmer’s markets using wireless technology to accept payment.

The Illinois Electronic Benefits Transfer Project will provide 41 farmer’s markets with $1,200 grants to purchase necessary equipment for vendors to wirelessly accept payment from customers using Illinois Link cards, along with credit and debit cards.

“We expect sales of local foods across Illinois, from urban gardens in Chicago to farms in Alexander County, to increase because of this program,” Lt. Governor Shelia Simon said in a recent press release. “Health benefits will follow. As a state, we export more than 95 percent of our food dollars. Doubling the number of farmers’ markets accepting Link, debit and credit cards will keep more of those dollars in local communities, while improving the health of our citizens and underserved neighborhoods, at no new cost to state taxpayers.”               

This wireless initiative is an example of the transformative effect high-speed internet access can have on economic growth, local agriculture, and healthy families.

people buying products at farmer's market “We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and the food is fresher here,” said Kelly Travis of Springfield, who makes weekly trips to the market with her two young daughters. “I feel good about feeding my girls healthy food and knowing where it came from. If we couldn’t (Link) cards here, we’d have to take a bus to the grocery store and produce just isn’t as good there.”

The Old Capitol Farmer’s Market in Springfield began the wireless initiative in June 2012 and has already seen an increase in sales.

“It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Ann Frescura, market manager. “We’ve seen thousands of dollars in new revenue from the Link customers and it’s great for those families because they’re now able to shop at farmer’s markets around the state. We also accept any major credit or debit cards with our machines. This added convenience has increased overall sales as well.”

point of sale device and link card with laptop at farmer's marketCustomers using a Link, debit, or credit card can visit special booths equipped with the new wireless machines to receive tokens that are used for payment at each farmer’s stand.

“We also received a grant that allowed us to give ‘double tokens’ to Link card users,” said Frescura. “It was so successful that we ran out of the $2,800 funding in five weeks and we’ve already applied for more.”

To see a full listing of participating farmer’s markets, click here.



Tags: economic development, economic growth, farmers markets, LINK, rural Illinois, Shelia Simon, wireless infrastructure, Wireless provider

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