Bonnie Dotson and her husband Josh sell fresh fruits and vegetables from their farm at Division Street Market in Chicago, IL.
Last summer I witnessed an amazing group of partners – the majority women, coincidentally – making a big difference in the lives of those who suffer from hunger. It all started with USDA’s effort to expand the availability of wireless technology at farmers markets not currently accepting SNAP benefits.
It’s sometimes difficult for markets to accept SNAP, because they need Electronic Benefit Transfer equipment and electricity to process benefits from the card. The funding can be used to help markets purchase the processing equipment, and to pay for wireless service so the equipment can be used without a power source. This is really exciting because it means more SNAP participants can access fresh, affordable and local produce and more American farmers can expand their client base. Read more »
One ag-educator expressed the feelings of many at the first meeting of the USDA Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers when he concluded, “This meeting is a progressive step in the right direction. USDA should be commended for doing this, and should convene this kind of public forum more often.”
A small farmer from Michigan added her encouragement, saying, “We don’t just want to talk about it anymore – we want it to happen.” Read more »
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. Read more »
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