Earlier this month, the company responsible for the app allowing farmers markets across the country to process EBT payments announced that they were shutting down on July 31st. The app, Mobile Market Plus by the Novo Dia Group, processes 40 percent of SNAP transactions at farmers markets, including all transactions across the NYC Greenmarket system. On July 19th, a stopgap measure was put in place. The National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP), which represents 45,000 farmers and 8,000 farmers markets across the country, is providing funds to keep the Novo Dia Group operational for the next 30 days.

“We are extremely grateful to NAFMNP for their continued support. This will not only avoid any immediate disruption of service, but also allows additional time to explore avenues for a longterm sustainable solution,” said Josh Wiles, President of Novo Dia Group, in their release.

For years, the nonprofit Farmers Market Coalition managed the SNAP benefits program at farmers markets across the country, using Novo Dia's app. The app runs on iPads, which is where GrowNYC collects data on many important elements from across all of their Greenmarket, including product lists, which farmers were there, the weather, and much more. "We used to collect all this stuff on paper," Cheryl Huber, Greenmarket Assistant Director told Gothamist.

Huber hopes that between now and August 31st, a non-profit or government agency will buy the Mobile Market Plus app and make it available on the App store. If that doesn't happen, GrowNYC will have to buy card readers, and all of the previously purchased iPads will effectively be useless. Huber is very much hoping that the Greenmarkets will continue to use the app, because "even in 10 degrees, the iPad still work. The old terminals are more weather sensitive."

One reason that Novo Dia is going out of business is because they were not able to work with the new company that took over the USDA contract to administer SNAP benefits at farmers markets. Back in March, the USDA awarded the $1.3 million contract to a new vendor, Financial Transaction Management, and Novo Dia indicated that they were not contacted, or allowed to bid in order to continue providing the app through Financial Transaction Management's contract.

As previously reported, Financial Transaction Management, which has one employee, was formed just before the contract became available. Their address, 1900 Campus Commons Dr., in Reston, VA, is a virtual office. The head of the company, Angela Sparrow, has not replied to a request for comment.

In a press release, Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Brandon Lipps stated all of these USDA contracts "were awarded through an open, competitive process that complied with federal contracting law, and the companies were chosen because they were both technically acceptable and the best value." The policy team leader at the USDA's Food and Nutrition Services division has not responded to a request for an interview.

Farmers markets that have not previously received EBT equipment through the USDA can apply for free equipment through this site. Since GrowNYC previously received equipment a number of years ago, it is not eligible to apply.