Friday, May 11, 2012

Grant Opportunity for Farmers Markets

On May 9, the USDA announced a $4 milion grant opportunity for farmers markets who currently do not accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The grant money is to be used for setting up internet access at the markets so that the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) system can be used. Currently, there are over 1500 farmers markets in the USA using EBT. This is a 400% rise since 2008.

"Our country's 7,100 operating farmers markets offer opportunities to our children and their families to access healthy food across the country," said Deputy Secretary Merrigan. "SNAP participation at farmers' markets helps provide fresh fruit and vegetables to families and expands the customer base for local farmers - a win-win for agriculture and local communities...This funding will help SNAP customers increase their opportunities to access healthy, local foods," added Deputy Secretary Merrigan. And evidence suggests they will take advantage of that access. When we couple this approach with strategies like the education, cooking demonstrations, and community support often found at farmers markets, consumption of healthy foods should rise even more."
(Source: usda.gov)

According to the USDA National Farmers Market Directory (http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/), there are 258 farmers markets in PA and only 48 of them accept SNAP benefits. I think this grant sounds like a great opportunity for our PA farmers markets to grab new customers!

As a farmers market participant, do you accept SNAP benefits? If you do, is it a popular payment option? If you do not accept SNAP benefits, are you customers asking for it?

As a farmers market customer, do you think you would shop at a farmers market more often if they accepted SNAP?

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