Farmers' markets expand access for low-income families
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
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FRANKFORT, Ky. – Low-income families can use their SNAP benefits to buy fresh, nutritious local foods at more Kentucky farmers’ markets than ever before, Agriculture Commissioner James Comer said.
Up to 225 farmers’ markets and individual producers now use Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) equipment – a more than 10-fold increase from 21 markets in 2010. The EBT equipment enables customers to buy foods at farmers’ markets with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) benefits and to pay with debit or credit cards.
“The EBT equipment helps farmers’ market customers buy nutritious local foods to serve to their families,” Commissioner Comer said. “It also helps Kentucky farmers make a better living and stay on the farm. I’m grateful to our farmers’ market vendors for adopting this technology and to our partners who helped make it possible.”
Sharon Spencer, the department’s farmers’ market specialist, began promoting the SNAP program to Kentucky markets in 2013. Spencer worked with MarketLink, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, the National Association of Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs, and WorldPay to give markets and vendors the opportunity to sign up for free EBT equipment at the Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference in January. Subsequent sign-ups and trainings were offered in Bowling Green, Louisville, Manchester, and Morehead.
“Our, farmers’ markets and producers understand the need for low-income families to have access to fresh, healthy, locally grown food,” Spencer said. “I’m excited to see the difference this will make for Kentucky farmers, and Kentucky families.”
Nationwide, farmers’ markets redeemed $16.6 million in SNAP benefits last year, compared with $4.2 million five years ago.