Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for All: EBT at the Keene Farmers’ Market
Submitted by Champion and KSC Dietetic Intern, Kelly Wilson
Nearly 8,000 residents (over 10% of the population) of Cheshire County were classified as having limited access to nutritious, safe food in 2010. To address food insecurity and poverty, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program provides individuals with incomes <130% of the federal poverty line ($28,665 for a family of four) with monthly funds to purchase food. In 2010, 104,357 individuals in NH were participating in this program.
Improving low-income residents’ access to local foods can have powerful impacts on the health of the food system and its users. Improved social capital, such as SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) access at farmers’ markets, increases the availability of fresh and nutrient dense foods, increases demand for local products, and increases investment in the local economy.
The Keene Farmers’ Markets began accepting SNAP EBT in November 2011. With this system, food stamp recipients swipe their EBT cards at a central location and receive colored tokens to be used to purchase food items. The purchases are then deducted from the customers’ food stamp account. This program not only increases access to local foods for low-income populations, but also benefits all market goers. Customers who find themselves at the market without cash can also swipe their debit/credit card to receive tokens to purchase market products.
Improving access to healthy, local foods, as through the Keene Farmers’ Markets’ EBT program, fosters the growth and development of a resilient local food system, one of Vision 2020’s key strategies. Check out the Keene Farmers’ Markets’ new EBT program and support your local farmers by attending the summer season grand opening on May 5th!