FLINT, Mich. – Farmers markets throughout Michigan are opening and many are providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families by accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food Stamps) benefits – on “Bridge cards.” Many markets are even encouraging SNAP recipients to participate by offering “Double Up Food Bucks,” giving an additional dollar on every dollar spent up to a maximum of $20 per visit.
“This is a great opportunity for low-income families to stretch their budgets,” says Elan Nichols, who analyzes state food policy at Center for Civil Justice. “There is also a national dialog about increasing access to fresh, healthy foods. This is a great way to make sure low-income families aren’t left out of that conversation.”
The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MiFMA) states that 128 markets currently accept SNAP. MiFMA’s goal is to have 150 Farmers Markets accept SNAP benefits by June 30. SNAP recipients do not need to apply for additional funds to participate. They simply need to visit participating markets.
In addition to accepting SNAP and offering “Double Up Food Bucks,” some farmers markets are also accepting Women, Infants and Children (WIC) assistance under the Project FRESH banner. WIC recipients should contact their local Department of Community Health office for details. As part of Project FRESH requirements, WIC recipients typically attend healthy eating classes though local Michigan State University Extension Offices. Seniors may also be able to buy fruit and vegetables under Market FRESH, and should contact the Offices of Services to the Aging at (517) 373-8230 for details.
A list of farmers markets, and what benefits they accept, can be found here: http://mifma.org/find-a-farmers-market/. Center for Civil Justice is a non-profit group that monitors changes in public assistance policy and advocates on behalf of low-income clients.
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