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Former SNAP Recipient Helps Increase Access to Fresh Produce at Farmers Markets

Corey Chapman, EBT Coordinator for City of Chicago farmers markets, processes a woman’s benefits card so she can purchase items at the market.

Corey Chapman, EBT Coordinator for City of Chicago farmers markets, processes a woman’s benefits card so she can purchase items at the market.

If there’s one thing Corey Chatman is passionate about, it’s making sure everyone has access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Maybe it’s because he knows what it’s like to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for nourishment.

During the recent financial crisis, Corey was down on his luck and needed SNAP assistance to make ends meet. After he found a job with the Chicago-area nonprofit, Experimental Station, Corey was able to discontinue his SNAP benefits. To this day he’s adamant about promoting the safety net that helped him through a tough time.

“I view this as a tremendous opportunity to give back to the community…by helping a valuable government program that helped me when I needed it the most,” he says. For his day job, Corey helps Chicago farmers markets set up Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) machines so they can accept SNAP benefits. He set up the first EBT machines in 2010, and soon after farmers markets sales soared. Participating markets earned a record $28,944 in total SNAP/EBT transactions. And one market even broke Illinois state records for both complete season and one day sales.

Ensuring families have access to nutritious food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, is a key objective of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative aimed at reducing childhood obesity and improving the health of Americans. And farmers’ markets are vital in providing this access. Corey’s future plans include implementing EBT machines at farmers markets across the state. He will happily offer free EBT consulting, training and on-site maintenance services to market managers, thanks in large part to a USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion Program (FMPP) grant.

We look forward to an update on Corey’s work as he continues to help those in need.

3 Responses to “Former SNAP Recipient Helps Increase Access to Fresh Produce at Farmers Markets”

  1. Toucan Foods says:

    This is fantastic! What about adding CSA’s to the program? I would love to see this rolled out in central Ohio where Toucanfoods.com is working to connect people to information about eating fresh foods. We are developing a directory of Farm Markets and CSAs to include on our website and indicating if they offer SNAP EBT machines.

  2. Rebecca [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Toucan Foods – have you checked out our National Farmers Market Directory? It maps 6,200 farmers markets across the county and can be sorted by markets that accept WIC, SFMNP, or SNAP vouchers. The raw dataset can also be found on Data.gov as an excel file. All of the data is public domain so feel free to use it, CNN already has!

  3. Abby says:

    This is great-people like Corey who experience programs like SNAP firsthand are the ones who are best to point out ways the programs could be improved. The EBT machines have the potential to reach many families and increase health among Americans as well as increase profit for farmers. I’m interested in knowing what company Corey works for and how that company meets the requirements for FMPP grants. Thank you for the update on FDA programs that relate to the First Lady’s Let’s Move! program.

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