Healthy food should is considered a universal right of everyone as it maintains our well-being and makes it possible for us to strive happy, healthy lives pursuing our routine. It is not always as simple as it sounds and the availability of fresh food becomes a luxury, sometimes- owing to affordability– especially for the huge number of American families in low-income neighborhoods. Due to the cost and access issues, many Americans sustain without fresh fruits and vegetables.
With affordable, competitive cost and federal Food assistance programs for low-income households, farmers’ markets are increasing access to fresh food in neighborhoods that desperately need it most. Farmer’s markets, unlike supermarkets, put fruits and vegetables in the front and center, creating shopping surroundings where healthy foods are illustrious and appreciated.
There can be no other opinion than that the farmers’ markets offer fresh produce and also help the local agriculture community, and yes it can be expensive. Domestic associations are taking initiatives to support local communities to buy fresh vegetables and fruits from these markets not considering monetary constraints.
As, Ronan Farmers Market Master rightly claimed that farmers in these markets are really into bringing fresh food that they just picked that morning into people’s hands, providing everybody to have access to nutritious farm-fresh fruit and vegetables.
SNAP And Farmers’ Markets
SNAP clients spend this assistance by swiping their EBT card on a point-of-sale (POS) terminal at the market in exchange for tokens or a paper receipt, which they can use to purchase specific food products from participating stores and grocery shops. Farmers and merchants can become authorized to administer their SNAP program, but it’s a common practice for markets to use a centralized POS.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined with the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) from 2014-2017 to provide qualified farmers markets and direct marketing farmers with free EBT equipment required to process EBT cards issued to SNAP beneficiaries.
According to USDA statistics over 7,377 such markets across the country were sanctioned to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in 2017 alone. It was more than twice the number of individual farmers and Farmers’ Markets registered with SNAP in 2012, which reflects a growing trend.
Each year SNAP recipients spend roughly $70 billion in SNAP benefits, including more than $22.4 million at farmers’ markets. While SNAP helps Americans under are near the poverty line, purchase food, the program also helps farmers participating in these markets in all 50 states. The estimated $22.4 million SNAP benefits, used at farmers markets in 2017, bringing more and fresher, local produce to the doorsteps of poor neighborhoods, enabling SNAP recipients to obtain the nourishing food their families require.
Benefits of Shopping at Farmers markets
The number of farmers’ markets, offering incentive programs to low-income seniors and SNAP and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Program) recipients, are also increasing. These programs offer deserving and eligible participants with coupons or vouchers they can trade in for more fresh food items, enhancing the capacity for struggling households to purchase and eat more fruits and vegetables.
Some states like Ohio provide $50 in coupons to any qualifying senior for use at markets. USDA issued a grant through which the Lake County Council on Aging will provide the coupons. The director of the council said that these markets are very important as fresh and nutritious food access can be an issue for senior citizens whether enrolled on SNAP or otherwise.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients have the facility to use their SNAP funds to purchase food at any farmers’ market in the county as the majority of these markets are participants of SNAP.
Small- scale farmers and retailers also welcomed the increase in business. The USDA reports that the figure of SNAP households shopping at these markets between 2012 and 2017 increased by 35.2%. This demonstrates how farmers’ markets are a win-win situation for farmers and low-income communities; they stimulate business for farmers by improving access to fresh, healthy food for families in need.
Farmers Markets are less expensive
Another research conducted by USDA also challenged the general notion of these Farmers markets being costly, it rather proved that the majority of Farmers Market Prices are Affordable and Competitive.
According to the research outcomes, at low-income locality farmers markets, 6 in 10 shoppers said that they could find better prices at the markets than at their groceries.
The study also revealed that in 74% of communities, traditional farmers’ market produce was less expensive than supermarket produce, on average by 22%.
In another study, average produce prices were 9% lower at farmers’ markets than at supermarkets in 12 North Carolina counties.
A Vermont study established that prices for many conventional products and all organic products, except for potatoes, were lower at farmers’ markets than at nearby supermarkets.
Farmers markets are causing real pace in rising fresh food access for lower-income SNAP participants throughout the country. A few million dollars of this vital food assistance which are being redeemed currently at such farmers markets across the US is a small fraction but the trend reflects a steady increase with there is a lot of potential in the future.
Nonetheless, the fast growth of SNAP dollars’ usage at farmers markets in recent years demonstrates that even a small increase in the percentage of SNAP benefits spent at these markets can make a real impact—fresher, nutritious foods going to families who need it, and millions of dollars in returns going directly to farmers, an indirect support to the national agriculture support.
This dramatic increase, as foreseen, can be credited to markets investing in novel outreach, awareness, incentive programs, and support from federal, state, and local governments.
Farmers Markets Coalition (FMC) and Way Forward
The Farmers Market Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association aimed to strengthen farmers’ markets across the United States so that they can serve as community assets while providing real income prospects for farmers.
FMC is working to supply state associations and other market campaigners with resources they can utilize to support state assistance to help markets accept SNAP. These resources include researching and providing examples of state legislation and programs that support SNAP at farmers’ markets, disseminate info for state officials, and an advocacy toolkit.