Friday, July 13, 2018

Local Impact of a New USDA Contract

Photo: Amy Brown
An article from Modern Farmer came to my attention yesterday, reporting that people using SNAP benefits may soon no longer be able to shop at farmers markets: "Tens of Thousands of People Are About to Lose the Ability to Buy Fresh Food at Farmers Markets." The article begins:
Farmers markets are a huge and growing supplier of healthy food to those using SNAP benefits, better known as food stamps. In New York City alone, an estimated $1 million per year is spent at farmers markets using SNAP. Many cities and states have additional benefits; in New York, for example, SNAP users get an extra two dollars to spend on produce for every five dollars spent at the farmers markets.
This is true at the Hudson Farmers Market. SNAP recipients swipe their cards; $5 is deducted from the card, and they get $7 in tokens to spend at the market. Two weeks ago, the Hudson Farmers Market was at the open house at Bliss Towers to spread the word about this benefit.

The ability to use SNAP cards at the Hudson Farmers Market and every other farmers market in New York State could end on July 31. The reason has do with the software required for swiping cards and the USDA awarding the contract for managing the program, which for years had been done by the Farmers Market Coalition, a national nonprofit that promotes and helps farmers markets, to a new company called Financial Transaction Management, LLC. The article in Modern Farmer provides all the details.

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