Market Bucks

EBT process redesign for Atlanta Farmers Markets

EBT User

Market Manager



The Problem

Many farmers markets in Atlanta accept EBT credit, but they have to use a government-regulated system to distribute this credit, and not all farmers market vendors can have access to these systems. Thus, the farmers market management has to circumnavigate this system by exchanging credit for wooden tokens, which allow EBT users to buy food from vendors with these tokens. While this token system is very straightforward, it is also cumbersome, prone to loss, and invites a lot of stigma for EBT users. The managers of these markets also have to hand-write token amounts from each vendor and report them in a spreadsheet for vendor reimbursements, which takes time and is also prone to error.

The Solution

Our team reinvented the EBT process at Atlanta's CFM farmers markets by creating Market Bucks: a digital system which managers, vendors, and EBT users can use. This system involves a card, much like a gift card, where EBT users can upload their EBT credit instead of using wooden tokens. The card will also be charged using the Market Bucks app, and all transactions will be stored on our system, eliminating a lot of the reporting process that managers had to do in order to reimburse vendors for the tokens. Overall, this solution makes the process a lot more efficient, decreases stigma felt by EBT users, and makes fresh produce more accessible to a large group of people.

My Roles

• Created storyboards to visualize the different processes

• Designed initial wireframes of screens

• Wired together screens for prototypes in Invision

• Helped conduct usability tests with prototype

My Team

• Me

• Bang Tran

• Rachel Feinberg

• Suyash Thakare

Methods Used

• Background and Domain Research

• Interviews

• Brainstorming and Ideation (Sketching Design Alternatives and Storyboarding)

• Feedback on Design Alternatives

• Prototyping

• Usability Tests

Research Process

Background and Domain Research

Below are images that we obtanied from our research on the EBT process at farmers markets, how it works, and the pain points associated with it.

EBT Process in CFM Farmers Markets

Wooden Tokens given to EBT Customers to exchange for food purchases

Handwritten report of tokens at each vendor that the manager has to track and report again into Excel

Market Managers

• Process EBT Cards into a currency that is usable at the farmers market

• Give EBT Customers the proper amount of funds as part of the Georgia Fresh for Less program

• Collect the value of EBT transactions from Vendors so that the Vendors may be properly reimbursed

• Report weekly EBT data in internal CFM systems and external partner systems


• Accept EBT funds for payment at their booths

• Reimbursed by Market Managers for the goods sold to EBT Customers

EBT Users

• Use EBT funds at the farmers market to purchase goods

The EBT Process needs to...

• Process the EBT funds into something that is accessible and usable by both EBT Customers and Vendors at the farmers markets

• Allow EBT users to purchase products with the processed form of EBT funds

• Allow Vendors to accept the processed form of EBT funds

• Allow Market Managers to track and report EBT spending data (e.g. how much EBT funds did a vendor accept during the market?)


We conducted semi-structured interviews with market managers, vendors, and EBT users at a farmers market in order to understand an overview of frustrations with the system. We used this data to construct our usability criteria and task analysis for the system.

5Market Managers


4EBT Users

Results from interviews (number indicates amount of responses related to the idea):

Market Managers

• Takes time to count tokens (4)

• Does not like redundant reporting of EBT (4)

• Has a hard time tracking tokens (4)

• Uses technology when necessary (3)

• Slightly tech savvy (3)

• Likes efficiency (3)

• Sometimes gets tokens from other markets (3)

• Has delays between vendor reimbursements (3)

• Found errors with token counting from both managers and vendors (3)

• Likes idea of digitizing system (3)

• Tech savvy (2)

• Likes simplicity of EBT system (2)

• Sometimes runs out of tokens (2)

• Believes tokens separate EBT users from the rest (2)

• Is not interested in technology (1)

• Believes there is a necessity for EBT in farmers markets (1)

• Sometimes loses reimbursement sheet (1)

• Likes idea of autofill for reporting (1)

• Sees that vendors give EBT tokens to customers for change sometimes (1)

• Has difficulty with wifi and data connection (1)

• Printed tokens are expensive (1)

• Believes tokens are bulky if you have a lot (1)


• Is pro-technology (4)

• Comfortable using technology for business (4)

• Likes simplicity (2)

• Believes EBT in farmers markets is necessary (2)

• Wants management to take care of reporting EBT (2)

• Likes digital reimbursement (2)

• Tech savvy (1)

• Hates technology (1)

• Not tech savvy (1)

• Uses technology when necessary (1)

• Feels bad for customers when the vendor has to round down amount owed (1)

• Prefers sooner reimbursement time - current time is unreliable (1)

• Does not like that reimbursements cannot be traced back to their corresponding market day (1)

• Not happy that reimbursement amount is sometimes incorrect (1)

• Will mix up different token types with EBT tokens (1)

EBT Users

• Has smartphone (4)

• Is tech savvy (4)

• Believes that EBT tokens can separate EBT users from other customers (2)

• Like double SNAP (1)

• Forgets or misplaces physical tokens (1)

• Does not carry leftover tokens (1)

• Has to wait for managers to count out tokens (1)

• Comfortable but conscious about their tech usage (1)

Task Analysis constructed from our interview of the system:

Design Process

Brainstorming and Ideation

Brainstorming Sketches

EBT User Design Alternative 1: Market Bucks Card

EBT User Design Alternative 2: Market Bucks Basket

EBT User Design Alternative 3: Market Bucks App

Vendor App

Manager App

Feedback on Design Alternatives

We brought our three alternate design ideas for EBT users to two farmers market managers, who gave feedback on these designs to help us choose which design idea to move forward with.

Quotes from our feedback session:

On the Card:

"“This makes sense to me, and the cards wouldn’t cost that much to produce, since the wood tokens are expensive.”

"“Overall this is the one I like the most. It’s the simplest and makes the most sense for our organization. Cards are easy.”

On the Basket:

"“Okay, maybe that was harsh, but we would not have anywhere to store all these. Grant Park has 2000+ people every market. We would need a lot of baskets”

"“What if you have a lot of stuff in the basket and it’s really heavy to lift up to scan?”

On the App:

"“I feel like this has too many steps. It’s interesting but it’s a little complicated to understand and explain.”

"“I don’t really like downloading super specific apps that have just one function, so I don’t really like this one.”

From this feedback, we decided to go with the Market Bucks card for EBT users.


QR Card

Market Manager, Vendor, and Optional EBT User Apps

EBT User

Market Manager


Usability Testing

Usability Testing

Since this is an ongoing project, we are currently in the usability stage. This section will be updated once our results are completed.