December Letter from the NAFMNP President
January 14, 2016
Dear NAFMNP Colleagues,
I hope and trust you are all doing well and that you are looking forward to the holiday season. I thought I’d take a moment to thank you for what you do for the Farmers Market Nutrition Programs and give you a brief update on some NAFMNP items.
As you likely know, last Friday the Senate voted in favor of a package of spending bills that included reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and increased appropriations by $2 million for FMNP – and later that day President Obama signed that legislation into law. A big thank you to all of you that helped get letters of support to Congressional reps and senators, and a special shout out to Don Wambles for his continued efforts behind the scenes! As Phil Blalock pointed out, this is the first increase in the FMNP since the Bush administration. This is great news for the FMNP and reaffirms that this is a program that should be strengthened and promoted.
I’d also like to share with you that it was announced earlier this fall that the USDA contract with MarketLink has ended. MarketLink however is adapting well to this new reality and going forward with renewed dedication to the goal of increasing SNAP redemption through farmers and farmers markets. With NAFMNP Board oversight, Amy Crone and Phil Blalock have been working with WorldPay on additional features MarketLink plans to offer in 2016. Amy reports there will be an announcement in January.
It should be pointed out that all existing MarketLink contracts and fees with markets and farmers remain unaffected. MarketLink continues to accept applications and offer free equipment to electronically process SNAP-EBT. To steal a paragraph from a MarketLink press release:
“New farmers and farmers markets in 45 states and the District of Columbia have chosen MarketLink equipment, and used this equipment to accept more than $2 million in SNAP sales. Farmers and markets have seen more than $6 million in total sales through their MarketLink terminals over the course of the past year and a half. In New York State alone, between January 2015 and August 2015 more than $331,000 in SNAP sales and more than $709,000 in credit/debit sales were redeemed using MarketLink equipment.” I look forward to watching MarketLink evolve and grow over the next year!
In other news, we have an active and energetic Board of Directors this year. Every board member is engaged in advancing NAFMNP, and we encourage you to “toot the horn” when it comes to this great organization and the FMNP and Senior FMNP. Committees are also working hard - including President-Elect Judy Allen and the Membership Committee looking at ways to attract additional members and income to help sustain and strengthen the association – and Erin Khmelev and the Conference Committee making great strides in getting the 2016 conference in Juneau up and running and being one to remember. And our Executive Director continues to do great work for the organization. I’m grateful that the NAFMNP has Phil with his in-depth knowledge and experience working as its Executive Director. I want to thank all of these people for their dedication to the organization.
I hope to write to you again in January. At that time, Erin will provide you with updates on the NAFMNP Conference - including website information, and there should be more news to share about MarketLink.
Thank you again for your participation in this great organization. Have a great holiday season and I look forward to working with you in 2016!