The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to expand the number of farmers markets accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — food stamps — benefits.
The USDA has released a “how-to” handbook for farmers market managers that provide a step-by-step guide to installing Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machines and accepting SNAP benefits, according to a news release.
“By welcoming SNAP benefits, farmers markets provide access to fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods which may not otherwise be easily available,” Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, said in the news release. “It is a win-win for both farmers and SNAP recipients.”
The publication addresses how to install an electronic benefits machine and steps to make sure the program works for vendors and customers.
The USDA also has an online directory of farmers markets in the U.S.
The total value of SNAP redemptions at farmers markets and food stands jumped from $2 million to $4 million from 2008 to 2009, according to the release. There are now 1,100 farmers markets with EBT machines in the U.S., and the number of farmers markets participating in the SNAP program has climbed 250% in the past five years.