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People on food stamps may no longer be able to shop at farmers’ markets

Squabbles over a central authority contract might save you low-income families from having easy access to farm-fresh fruit and veggies.

At factor: The talent of low-income Americans on executive help to use their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards to buy food at farmers’ markets. Farmers’ markets have to be provided to accept the EBT cards. If markets don't seem to be in a position to operate devices that may maintain EBT bills, vendors should use manual paper vouchers as an alternative.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture stated in a commentary released Saturday that the Food Assistance Program is “committed” to encouraging farmers’ market participation within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — also known as food stamps — to beef up access for low-income Americans while supporting economic opportunities for farmers and manufacturers.

Congress has authorized $four million each year so the USDA may give EBT apparatus to markets and farmers, the USDA stated. It previously worked with a third-party technology corporate called Novo Dia. But in November 2017 their settlement ended and, as of this month, they won’t supply give a boost to to the markets that used their technology.

“The Food and Nutrition Service was recently knowledgeable by way of a significant supplier of cell EBT technology for farmers’ markets and farm stands that it'll discontinue this service,” Brandon Lipps, the administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service, which is a part of the USDA, stated in a commentary. “With few suppliers in this marketplace, that is of serious concern. Farmers’ markets play crucial position in providing Americans with access to nutritious meals.”

“Since being notified of the supplier’s determination to discontinue service, USDA has been exploring all available choices in an try to keep away from a service disruption,” Lipps added. “Our number one function is to mitigate the have an effect on on our program members as well as farmers and manufacturers.”

The USDA did not name Novo Dia, however the corporate’s CEO confirmed that it has previously worked with the government on farmers’ market SNAP bills. “There have been lengthy, ongoing conversations about this,” Josh Wiles, the president of Novo Dia, instructed MarketWatch in connection with recent commentary by way of the Food and Nutrition Service. “This is not something they just came upon about.”

For its section, the Food and Nutrition Service stated it will proceed to work with interested cell bills suppliers, “while in the hunt for to modernize the manner by way of using a bring-your-own-device model for accepting SNAP” and other help methods. States should supply point-of-sale apparatus to try this, in keeping with the USDA.

Civil Eats, a food coverage web site, reported remaining month that farmers had been concerned with shedding SNAP revenue from consumers at farmers’ markets. And remaining week, the Washington Post reported that a large proportion of people who recently pay for merchandise at farmers’ markets by way of SNAP will no longer be in a position to take action because the markets won’t have the best technology after July 31.

Some 7,377 farmers’ markets had been arrange with the technology to accept SNAP benefits in 2017, in keeping with the USDA, greater than double the 3,214 that might do so in 2012. In New York on my own, there are about 20,00zero SNAP recipients who shop at farmers’ markets, making 60,00zero transactions a year, in keeping with GrowNYC, a company that hosts farmers’ markets.

Those markets can give low-income customers access to brand new produce. A 2009 learn about by way of the nonprofit Project for Public Spaces, the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Columbia University, discovered that 60% of farmers’ market customers in low-income neighborhoods stated the market had better costs than the grocery store. (They did not specify how many people participated within the survey.)

Another learn about discovered equivalent results, in keeping with the Farmers Market Coalition, a nonprofit staff. Of 216 customers surveyed on the Janesville, Wis., Farmers Market in 2012, 98% stated they would consume extra fruit and veggies as a result of their SNAP benefits and 30% stated that they had not shopped on the market prior to SNAP benefits had been accepted.

Maria LaMagna covers private finance for MarketWatch in New York.

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