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Thu Jul 12, 2018, 11:03 AM

Too furious to speak coherently: Farmers Markets about to lose SNAP processing ability



About a decade ago this was a project I was involved with, to get farmers' markets the ability to accept SNAP. This was a broad-based lobbying effort that got buy-in from farmers' and food producers' groups, doctors, dentists, and poverty and nutrition advocates (because it's one of those frustratingly few absolute win-win situations).

For the past several years, a non-profit organization had had a fixed-price contract to manage the merchant account that processes the EBT cards that SNAP recipients get.

You can read what happened next here.

It gets worse. Here is the govtribe page for the new "contractor". 1900 Campus Commons Drive Ste 100 in Reston is a fucking "desk by the hour" shared office space for freelancers.

It gets worse again. Here is the tender for the $1.3m contract, dated April 19th. Here is the award of the purchase agreement dated fucking April 24th. That's a six-day window, two of which were Saturday and Sunday. 1 "bid" received.

I want to go break something. Seeing a project that you dedicated a lot of effort to that was actually doing good in people's lives thrown away like this is heartbreaking.

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Reply Too furious to speak coherently: Farmers Markets about to lose SNAP processing ability (Original post)
Recursion Jul 12 OP
lunasun Jul 12 #1
hunter Jul 12 #2
Pacifist Patriot Jul 12 #3
haele Jul 12 #4
NCTraveler Jul 12 #5
localgirl Jul 16 #6
Recursion Jul 16 #7

Response to Recursion (Original post)

Thu Jul 12, 2018, 11:29 AM

1. New company one employee formed right before contract was up


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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Thu Jul 12, 2018, 11:35 AM

3. Holy crap

I'm having WTF exhaustion today!

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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Thu Jul 12, 2018, 11:36 AM

4. So, who is this Angela Sparrow person and how did "she" get a $1.3 mil USDA contract

providing the equipment, handling money, provide promotional materials and acting as a information clearinghouse under a Single Award Blanket Purchase contract - when "her" business had just started up just in time to apply for the contract. Firm Fixed award, also.
Did she have any experience?


She's registered under pretty near every conceivable special consideration "check box" - Minority Owned, Woman Owned, Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned, Self-Certified Small Business, and Asian American Owned.
I'm surprised they didn't add in Disabled Veteran Owned, but people might start looking if there's too many checkboxes activated if she's just a front or proxy for a sub-contracting or temp work organization that would just take over the existing contract, software and equipment and "manage" the metrics for the USDA until they find some way to shut the program down.

I'd be interested in seeing the proposal she made to get the contract. After all, it is $1.3 Million over, what - 3 years?
I'm somewhat familiar with government proposals, I've got a real, live, Bachelor's in Business from a very reputable university (no online diploma scam organization) along with PMP certification, and I can legitimately check off more "boxes" than Ms. Sparrow did.
I also have a pretty decent computer, reasonably capable in graphic design, basic coding, and most mid-sized business programs, can easily afford a Square Space portal, and have a spare room in our paid-for double wide I can turn into an office, along with a shed in the back I can turn into a "warehouse".
I can hire my slacker SiL to run "equipment" to the post office and answer the phone. Spouse can handle twitter feeds, comments, and emails.
Easy-Peasy...well, except I'm not a Republican or a Republican backer. And I refuse to be a possible mob, lobbyist, or "prosperity gospel" organization front for easy money. I'd actually want to do a good job.

Haele



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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Thu Jul 12, 2018, 11:41 AM

5. Tens of Thousands of People Are About to Lose the Ability to Buy Fresh Food at Farmers Markets

 

The Washington Post reports that a large percentage of those using SNAP benefits at farmers markets—tens of thousands of people—are about to lose that ability. The likely date for the shutdown is July 31st, right in the heart of the growing season for much of the country’s farmers. This is a disastrous screw-up on the part of the federal government.

Farmers markets are a huge and growing supplier of healthy food to those using SNAP benefits, better known as food stamps. In New York City alone, an estimated $1 million per year is spent at farmers markets using SNAP. Many cities and states have additional benefits; in New York, for example, SNAP users get an extra two dollars to spend on produce for every five dollars spent at the farmers markets.


Now, A Brand-New, Virtually Unknown Company is Taking Over the Contract and Changing Everything

In November 2017, that middleman contract came up for renewal. After months of deliberation, the USDA decided to replace them with a company called Financial Transaction Management, LLC, based in Reston, Virginia. Financial Transaction Management was formed in late October of 2017, just before the contract became available. It is listed on GovTribe as having one employee, Angela Sparrow, who did not respond to requests for comment. In April, Financial Transaction Management secured the USDA contract, which is worth $1.3 million.

Novo Dia, whose farmers market software is called Mobile Market Plus, is a vital, if mostly unknown, way for food-insecure people to get healthy food. Among its 1,700 customers is the entire New York City Greenmarket system. “Our assumption was that we would be able to, for lack of a better word, bid on [the government contract], or at at least be contacted [about our services],” said Josh Wiles, president of Novo Dia. “And we weren’t.” Financial Transaction Management did not initiate any communication with the biggest provider of the service it was tasked with managing, and in fact Novo Dia did not even manage to speak with them for weeks after the contract was awarded.


https://modernfarmer.com/2018/07/tens-of-thousands-of-people-are-about-to-lose-the-ability-to-buy-fresh-food-at-farmers-markets/

https://govtribe.com/vendor/financial-transaction-management-llc-reston-va



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Response to Recursion (Original post)

Mon Jul 16, 2018, 09:12 PM

6. Yikes

I am a farmers' market manager who is deeply involved with SNAP at markets but not directly affected. I help others who are.

I have reason to believe there was at least one much more qualified bidder. But I know zero about reading the contract sites. Can you help me learn how to verify who bid and when?

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Response to localgirl (Reply #6)

Mon Jul 16, 2018, 09:38 PM

7. I followed the bidding procedure as far as I posted here. What are your thoughts?

There's a lot shady going on here

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