Those with food stamp benefits are now able to use their food stamp (EBT) card at the Univera Healthcare Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market.
"When it comes to food stamp customers, we're trying to emphasize that their benefits can go further than they may have thought at the farmers market. Not only are they able to obtain farm-fresh food, they have access to vendors and farmers who are ready and willing to share advice, tips and recipes," said Diane Eggert, Farmers Market Federation of NY executive director.
At the market, EBT card holders are able to purchase food stamp-authorized goods, such as fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, maple syrup, breads, baked goods, jams, processed foods and even seeds and food-bearing plants.
"Now, food stamp customers have access to the freshest, healthiest produce and products that New York state has to offer," said Tiffani Conti, Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation special projects manager. "By providing these payment options we are able to expand to the customers who normally do not carry cash and increase sales for the vendors who do not already accept food stamps or credit transactions."
Some of the vendors were already accepting EBT, debit and credit cards on their own, but according to Conti, the new process will take some of the responsibility off them. The market received a $1,000 grant through Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play to assist with the financial costs of implementing the program.
According to Carl Shultz, Small Meadows Farm owner, the program will make it more accessible for other vendors who could not previously accept EBT cards. Bob Schultz of the Busti Farm Market and Cider Mill, said that it gives people another way to get their food.
The electronic transaction is made possible through wireless technology set up at the market manager's booth. Food stamp customers can use their card to purchase $1 wooden tokens, and VISA and Mastercard holders can also purchase tokens,with each debit/credit token having a $5 value.
These tokens then function as cash within the market, and at the end of the day, vendors redeem the tokens for a cash exchange. Both tokens can be used week-to-week or any unused tokens maybe returned for a refund.
DJDC invites the local youth community to participate in the Farmers Market Kids! Eat Local Challenge. Kids! Eat Local Challenge is a contest that encourages youth to eat local and learn about local produce. There are nine different tasks available and each entry must complete a minimum of four tasks to enter.
The challenge will run through the 2012 market season with a winner drawn at the Univera Healthcare Downtown Jamestown Farmers Market on Friday, Oct. 19. Three prizes will be awarded with first place receiving a one-year membership to the Jamestown YMCA. Entry forms available online at www.discoverjamestown or at the farmer's market information booth.