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Market bucks, EBT purchases make Farmers Markets accessible
Minneapolis Farmers Markets accept EBT purchases and participate in the Market Bucks (matching) program; leaders in a growing trend seen across Minnesota
As we experience the abundance of the harvest in Minnesota, farmers markets are at their most lively. In Minneapolis, nine farmers markets have purposefully worked to ensure all community members have access to their dizzying variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, local breads, honey and more. Thanks to a collaborative effort between these markets, the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), low-income Minnesotans who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) can use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase affordable and healthy food at farmers markets in every corner of the city, from West Broadway to Fulton.
SNAP participants can also stretch their dollars further with a special incentive funded by Blue Cross that matches 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 the 2013 market season, on SNAP‐eligible purchases.
Twin Cities farmers markets have consistently been leaders in promoting access to fresh and healthy food. The Midtown Farmers Market (at Lake St E & 22nd Ave S) was the first market in Minnesota to accept EBT back in 2006. In 2010, the Minneapolis Health Department assisted the Minneapolis Municipal Farmers Market and the Northeast Farmers Market to set up systems to accept EBT and offer Market Bucks. Today, the EBT and Market Bucks program is also implemented at the Augsburg College Farmers Market, Brian Coyle Farmers Market, Fulton Farmers Market, Kingfield Farmers Market, Mill City Farmers Market and West Broadway Farmers Market. Locations and hours of operation are listed below.
The nine participating Minneapolis markets are leaders in the growing trend seen across Minnesota. In fact, more than 50 markets throughout the state are accepting EBT cards this season – almost doubling the number that participated in 2012 – and enabling more SNAP participants to purchase produce and other SNAP eligible products directly from local farmers.
"Offering EBT redemption at the farmers market helps us realize our goal to make healthy, local food available to people of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic positions. In turn, this supports our mission to be an open community and enhance the livability of our neighborhood," says Brian Thielke, EBT Outreach Coordinator at the Northeast Farmers Market.
Farmers Markets are meant to be dynamic gathering spaces where community members from a variety of cultures and economic backgrounds come together and have positive interactions; making markets accessible to EBT customers supports this mission. The EBT and Market Bucks initiative is truly a "win-win" as it enables SNAP participants to purchase the healthy foods they need, while at the same time supporting local farmers and producers. SNAP is a public benefit program that also provides an economic stimulus, creating an economic boost that ripples throughout the economy when new SNAP benefits are redeemed.
Alicia Uzarek started and manages the West Broadway Farmers Market in North Minneapolis, which opened in 2011 and has always accepted EBT and Market Bucks. Like other market managers, Uzarek recognizes that markets, "benefit in many ways by accepting EBT and welcoming EBT customers. The market becomes a gathering space for all community members, fresh local produce become accessible to all, and small farmers and startup businesses benefit greatly from the increased sales."
Using EBT at the market is easy. Once an EBT card holder arrives at a participating market, he or she should simply look for the EBT booth, buy market tokens with their EBT card and claim up to five dollars worth of Market Bucks each day they visit a market. Market Bucks are valid anytime during the 2013 market season anywhere in Minnesota.
Nearly all of the participating markets also accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) coupons and WIC Fruit and Vegetable Vouchers. Mini markets, or satellite markets hosted by one of the full markets listed below, exist throughout the city and also accept EBT. For a full list of farmers markets in Minnesota that accept SNAP/EBT, visit z.umn.edu/farmersmarkets.
To determine your eligibility for SNAP, call The MN Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151.
Minneapolis Farmers Markets that accept EBT and Market Bucks
625 22nd Ave S
Tuesday 11:00am -1:00pm
420 15th Ave S
Tuesday 2:00pm - 5:00pm
4901 Chowen Ave S
Saturday 8:30am - 1:00pm
4310 Nicollet Ave
Sunday 8:30am - 1:00pm
2225 E. Lake St
Saturday 8:00am - 1:00pm
Tuesday 3:00pm - 7:00pm
704 2nd St S
Saturday 8:00am - 1:00pm
312 East Lyndale Ave N
Daily 6:00am - 1:00pm
EBT Booth Open: Thursday-Friday 9am-12pm, Saturday-Sunday 7am-1pm
629 2nd St NE
Saturday 9:00am - 1:00pm
900 West Broadway Ave
Friday 3:00pm - 7:00pm
Originally published in Insight News