Farmers markets see big jump in food stamp use


In recent years, it has gotten easier for food stamp recipients to use their benefits for fresh produce sold at Minnesota farmers markets, and MPR reports that more of them are taking advantage of the option.

According to he U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of food stamps redeemed in the 2013 season tripled compared to the 2011 season. Food stamp recipients redeemed $226,900 in benefits this year at the state's farmers markets; the amount redeemed in 2011 was $66,900. Nearly 60 farmers markets in Minnesota now accept food stamps.

An article in Twin Cities Daily Planet in September found that the number of farmers markets accepting food stamps almost doubled from the number that participated in 2012.

The story said that nine Minneapolis farmers markets participated in a collaboration between the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The program provided incentives for food stamp recipients, giving them additional "Market Bucks" when they used their EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) cards linked to their food stamp accounts.

The Midtown Farmers Market was the first market in Minnesota to accept EBT back in 2006.

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