Archived Story

Farmers market to accept EBT

Published 10:17am Thursday, June 20, 2013

Low-income Minnesotans can once again take advantage of two programs being offered through the Albert Lea Farmers Market that make fresh and healthy foods easier to purchase and more affordable.

According to a press release for the third consecutive year, the market has signed on to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer cards — and its decision is part of a growing trend seen across Minnesota.

In fact, more than 50 markets throughout the state have agreed to collaborate with their local farmers market associations, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants to purchase vegetables, fruits and other SNAP eligible products directly from local farmers.

SNAP participants can also stretch their dollars further with a special incentive from Blue Cross, which is matching EBT card purchases with up to an additional $5 in Market Bucks each market day. Market Bucks can be used during the same trip or anytime during 2013 market season on SNAP eligible purchases. This is the third year the Albert Lea Farmers Market has participated in the program.

“We are very excited to be offering this program at our market again” said Katie Godfrey, the Community Nutrition Steward with the Albert Lea Market. “Our vendors currently have asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, spinach, meats, eggs, baked goods, jams, honey and vegetable garden plants available for purchase with EBT, among many other products.”

The installation of terminals to accept EBT at farmers markets has grown slowly since Minnesota’s food support program moved from paper stamps to electronic form in 1998. Implementing technology that allows SNAP participants to use their benefits at farmers markets provides them access to goods which may otherwise not be readily available, especially in neighborhoods that lack a full service grocery store. It also creates a new customer base for markets and an economic boost whenever new SNAP benefits are redeemed.

“We know many people want to make healthier choices for themselves and their families, but the challenge is making the healthy choice easy and accessible for everyone,” said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross. “Enabling SNAP participants to use their EBT card at their neighborhood farmers market provides them greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables, creates a sense of community and can build demand for further public health improvements at a neighborhood level.”

The Albert Lea Farmers Market is open Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays from now until the end of October. The market is located at North Broadway and Fountain Street. The market has basket drawings every Wednesday and treats available every Saturday. For more information on the market, find it on Facebook.

To see a full list of farmers markets across Minnesota that are accepting EBT and participating in the Market Bucks program this season visit preventionminnesota.com.

To determine your eligibility for SNAP call The MN Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151.