Food Policy Council
Alaska Farmers' Market -
QUEST Card Program
All Alaskans should have access to fresh, healthy, local foods. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Divisions of Public Health and Public Assistance, and the Department of Natural Resources Division of Agriculture are working together to help farmers’ markets with the ability to accept Quest cards. Alaska Quest cards have Food Stamps* and TANF (also called “cash”) benefits. Both of these can be used at markets participating in the Alaska Farmers’ Market – Quest Card Program.
Nationally, many farmers’ markets accepted Food Stamps paper coupons until the implementation of the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card system. The plastic EBT cards, which look just like a credit or debit card, require a point-of-sale machine to process purchases. Since most farmers’ markets do not have access to electricity and phone lines during the market they require a wireless machine. This system is difficult and expensive for most farmers’ markets to offer, and therefore, use of Food Stamps at farmers’ markets dropped dramatically.
The Alaska Farmers’ Market-Quest Card Program provides USDA-approved farmers’ markets with funding and technical assistance to purchase wireless EBT machines and implement farmers’ market-EBT programs. These wireless machines accept Alaska Quest cards, as well as credit and debit cards. This program makes healthy, local foods more accessible to low income Alaskans and increases farmers’ and vendors’ sales by providing access to other sources of revenue.
For more information about the Alaska Quest Program, visit www.akquest.alaska.gov.
For more information about the USDA SNAP at farmers’ markets or an application for USDA FNS authorization to accept SNAP benefits, visit www.fns.usda.gov/snap/ebt/fm.htm or call 1-877-823-4369.
*The USDA Food Stamp Program is now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Alaska continues to use the term “Food Stamps”. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Assistance issues Food Stamp benefits via the Alaska Quest card.
For more information about the Alaska Farmers’ Market-Quest Card Program, please email Diane Peck, MPH, RD or call 907-269-8447.
Alaska Farmers' Market - QUEST Card Program