|STAFF PHOTO / MIKE LANG|
The connection seems like a natural: participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) and fresh-produce vendors at farmers markets.
SNAP recipients could have access to healthy fruits and vegetables -- many of them locally grown and/or organic -- and vendors could expand their customer base.
Further sweetening the deal is the fact that the Florida Department of Agriculture sponsors a program that matches the benefit recipients' expenditures dollar for dollar, up to $20.
Two Southwest Florida farmers markets -- in Venice and Englewood -- are already accepting SNAP cards and participating in the state-sponsored program, the Herald-Tribune's Christi Womack reported Saturday.
The programs at the Venice and Englewood markets provide low-income residents with healthy choices while doubling their buying power through the state-sponsored plan, called Fresh Access Bucks. In addition, volunteers lead market tours and offer advice on preparing meals.
Given the 11, at last count, from Palmetto to Englewood -- we hope others join the program.
Fortunately, other markets are planning to do just that.
The Sarasota Farmers Market -- one of the first and the largest in the region -- is considering implementing the SNAP program, Executive Director Phil Pagano told us Monday. Some individual vendors at the market already accept the SNAP cards, called Electronic Benefits Transfers, Pagano said.
"We are in conversations with the Manatee County Department of Health on how to proceed in a way that makes nutritious food more available," Isham said in an email, "as well as education features and cooking demos to support healthy eating habits."
The participation of the Sarasota and Bradenton farmers markets would be especially important, given their downtown locations and convenience to many beneficiaries of the SNAP and Fresh Access Bucks programs.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, made accessible and affordable to families in need, and provided by local vendors: That sounds like a recipe for success in any community.
The Bradenton Farmers Market is also interested in participating in the SNAP program, said Johnette Isham, executive director of Realize Bradenton, which operates the market.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ProgramSTAFF PHOTO / THOMAS BENDER
Market Season 2014 begins October 2nd!!!
Please make plans to join us to celebrate the kickoff of Season IV for the Englewood Farmers Market on Thursday, October 2nd from 9 AM - 2 PM in the 300 Block of Historic West Dearborn Street. The Englewood Famers Market is the second largest market the tri-county area featuring over 50 of the top vendors in the region. Operating from October through May we offer Forida grown fresh and organic produce, six bakers including gluten free, fresh Florida wild caught seafood, a market butcher, gourmet food artisans, tropical plants, orchids, fresh cut flowers, coffee, tea, spices, olive oils, live music and much much more! We are proud to announce that the Englewood Farmers Market welcomes SNAP participants and we are launching are 2 for 1 Florida Access Bucks bonus dollars when you purchase Florida grown produce and citrus. The Englewood Farmers Market... Your Place to Shop and Meet Your Neighbors!
EBT Dollars Coming this Season