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MN Farmers Markets Help SNAP Dollars Go Further

Eight Minnesota farmers markets are matching the SNAP benefits of low-income shoppers up to $10 when they purchase healthy foods. (iStockphoto)
Eight Minnesota farmers markets are matching the SNAP benefits of low-income shoppers up to $10 when they purchase healthy foods. (iStockphoto)
January 25, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Even with winter in full effect, farmers markets are still up and running throughout Minnesota.

What's new this year is for people on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP their money goes even further at eight markets in particular.

The Market Bucks program in Minnesota now matches SNAP assistance up to $10.

Martha Archer, executive director of the Mill City Farmers Market, says the change is increasing access to healthy, local food for all Minnesotans, but especially for those who rely on electronic benefits transfers.

"The ability for customers who are on EBT and taking SNAP benefits be able to shop at farmers markets just like other customers is huge,” she states. “And we have a very dedicated and growing number of customers who come weekly."

Last year, Minnesota lawmakers passed a healthy eating bill that extends incentives for low-income Minnesotans who purchase fresh foods at local farmers markets.

The law set aside $1 million in grants, with some of the money helping nonprofit groups provide vouchers to SNAP recipients.

Hunger Solutions Minnesota is now in charge of the Market Bucks program. From now until early April, the eight participating farmers markets will be open mostly on weekends across the state.

Archer says this will not only benefit people who need access to healthy foods in the winter, it's also good for the food producers.

"We are able to extend the season and provide more economic opportunities for farmers, to be able to be making sales directly to customers year-round," she explains.

A full schedule of when and where the Market Bucks farmers markets are open is on the Hunger Solutions Minnesota website.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN