Promoting access to fresh and nutritious foods for the millions of Americans who participate in nutrition assistance programs is a top priority for USDA. We’re happy to announce that we’re emphasizing our commitment to promoting healthy food choices by giving more SNAP participants the ability to spend their benefits at farmers’ markets. Starting this month, we are making $4 million dollars in funds available to equip farmers’ markets with wireless point-of-sale equipment.
This equipment will allow SNAP customers to purchase items at farmers’ markets using their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. The funding for the equipment will help markets overcome some of the obstacles they face when it comes to electronic transactions including equipment costs and the need for power outlet and phone line access.
Since the funds are only available to new markets that are not currently authorized to have SNAP participants shop at their sites, these funds will expand the number of farmers’ markets participating in SNAP. This is a good thing because providing SNAP participants with greater access to farmers’ markets not only helps introduce low income families to a variety of healthy foods but also supports farmers in expanding their customer base.
We expect these grants to help as many as 4,000 farmers’ markets nationwide. Local economies will benefit from this kind of boost. Every $1 in new SNAP benefits spent can result in up to $1.80 in total economic activity. And not only are farmers’ markets good for local economies they’re ideal for nutrition education and outreach which we emphasize in all of our nutrition assistance programs.
For more details on how farmers’ markets may apply to begin welcoming SNAP shoppers please visit our web site by clicking here. Applicants who need assistance with the application process can contact their local FNS office. A list of those offices can be found by clicking here. And for details on eligibility, what the funds cover, and how the money will be allocated by State can be found here.
We’re excited to have this opportunity to further improve opportunities for low-income individuals to obtain fresh and nutritious foods and to support local farmers. In the video below, you can watch me talk more about this important effort in an interview I did with the Associated Press.
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