Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog.
An integral part of the Let’s Move! initiative is gaining a critical boost when it comes to solving the challenge of childhood obesity and improving the health and nutrition of all Americans. Today, USDA is proud to announce new investments that will help connect farms with families at the local level by providing grants to local farmers markets, producers, and farmers. Farmers markets across the country help families make the right choice when it comes to fresh produce and foods by bringing their harvest right to our communities. Read more »
FNS Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa judges tomatoes at Tomato Festival in Boston
Recently tomato farmers from across the Bay State converged on Boston City Hall Plaza seeking top tomato bragging rights at the 26th Annual Tomato Festival. I joined a panel of food writers, chefs, cookbook authors, grocers, and state officials as we readied our score sheets. Read more »
The Colorado Farmers Market Association, the City Heights Open Air & Certified Farmers Market in San Diego, Calif. and Greenmarket in New York City did it with help of the Farmers Market Promotion Program. The Athens Farmers Market in Athens, Ohio was among the first market in Ohio to do it and Detroit’s Eastern Market is seeing record-breaking sales now that they have joined the program.
These farmers markets are among the more than 1,100 farmers markets and farm stands that have implemented the Electronic Benefits Transfer system and now accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits at their markets.
Implementing a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at farmers markets can sometimes feel overwhelming. To make it easier, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), in collaboration with the non-profit Project for Public Spaces, has just released “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at Farmers Market: A How-To Handbook” .
The Handbook provides essential guidance for farmers market managers installing an Electronic Benefits Transfer machine and advice for making the program work successfully for vendors and customers. It also features a list of resources, a glossary of important terms, and several case studies from farmers markets that have successfully implemented an Electronic Benefits Technology system. This Handbook is part of the USDA’s commitment to building more direct market opportunities for producers, expanding both of these benefits at farmers markets, and addressing food deserts, especially those in low-income areas.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is not the only food assistance program welcomed at farmers markets. Customers can take advantage of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, a voucher program specifically for low-income seniors. Families qualifying for the Women, Infants and Children Program can use those benefits at farmers markets across the country as well. For those customers on the lookout for a farmers market that welcomes these benefits, the USDA Farmers Market Directory has a comprehensive list.
SNAP at Farmers Markets Handbook
Today, driving out to visit the Castillo farm in Plant City, Florida, Secretary Tom Vilsack and his staff took a moment to stop at a roadside stand selling a wide variety of local produce.
We we’re pleased to see that they accept SNAP benefits with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. And their boiled peanuts were delicious.
At the farm Secretary Vilsack had a great conversation with Fidel and Hilda Castillo. He learned how they have expanded their operation from just one acre to the more than 60 acres they farm today. The Secretary then went out into the cantaloupe field and checked out the irrigation system.
Up next, Secretary Vilsack will attend an event with agriculture leaders from across the state at the University of South Florida in Tampa to talk about the strength of Florida’s agricultural economy.
By Bobby Gravitz
Farmer’s Market near Plant City, Florida accepts SNAP benefits with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.