June 1, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Minnesota Is The First State To Fund SNAP Incentives At Farmers Markets
Minnesota offers $10 match program for low-income families and individuals to shop at farmers markets.
Minneapolis, Minn.—The Mill City Farmers Market is open for the season, and it looks a lot different for customers using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps. Minnesota Legislature was the first in the country to pass legislation funding a matching incentive program for SNAP. The bipartisan bill “Healthy Eating Here at Home,” passed in May 2015, funds Market Bucks, and this will be the first season of its implementation at Farmers Markets. The Market Bucks program matches SNAP benefit money spent at farmers markets dollar-for-dollar, up to $10. This is an increase from the privately funded $5 incentive in previous years. In addition to matching, food shelves, SNAP-Ed, and other participating organizations will pass out $10 Market Bucks gift certificates as a way to encourage new customers to shop at farmers markets. This is the first farmers market season where SNAP participants can now receive $30 total for seasonal vegetables, organic meats, fresh bread, and other grocery items at farmers markets while only spending $10 of their SNAP benefit money.
This year the Market Bucks matching program is being run by Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a comprehensive non-profit organization, working to end hunger in Minnesota. According to the USDA, 500,000 Minnesotans and 46 million Americans utilize SNAP each year, and 60 percent of SNAP participants are children, senior citizens or persons with disabilities. Currently, there are 6,000 USDA-authorized locations across the country where SNAP participants can have access to farmers markets or farmers directly to buy healthy, local food. However, according to the USDA, food insecurity is still reported by more than fifty percent of the households receiving SNAP benefits. It is the hope of lawmakers, farmers markets, food shelves, and Hunger Solutions Minnesota that this newly funded Market Bucks incentive will decrease the percentage of hungry Minnesotans significantly.
In addition to accepting SNAP/EBT, the Mill City Farmers Market supports healthy, local food access through community education at its markets. Free weekly cooking classes every Saturday in the Mill City Cooks kitchen, simple raw vegetable samples at all of its markets, and a food donation “gleaning” program for unsold produce at the end of market days are a few examples of the market’s educational programming.
Founded in 2006 by acclaimed local chef Brenda Langton and the Mill City Museum, Mill City Farmers Market has earned a reputation for its promotion of healthy eating and sustainable agriculture. Located next to the Guthrie Theater in downtown Minneapolis, the market runs every Saturday May-October from 8am to 1pm.
To use SNAP on an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at the Mill City Farmers Market, SNAP participants can bring their EBT card to the market’s information booth, where they will receive wooden tokens to pay the farmers. ###
More information about SNAP/EBT at Mill City Farmers Market: http://millcityfarmersmarket.org/learn/ebt/
More information about Market Bucks from Hunger Solutions Minnesota: http://www.hungersolutions.org/programs/market-bucks-2/