More Minnesotans are using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase fresh fruit, vegetables and other eligible products at local farmers markets. SNAP use at farmers markets has more than tripled in recent years, seeing a 239 percent increase in dollars spent from 2011 through 2013.
The gain follows efforts by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and its partners to make it more convenient and cost effective to use Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards at markets.
Market Bucks, a special incentive from Blue Cross, matches EBT card purchases with up to an additional $5 in bonus coupons each market day. Market Bucks can be used during the same trip or anytime during the 2014 market season on SNAP-eligible purchases, which include fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy products of farm and field.
The West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, which operates the market in North Minneapolis, is also working to spread awareness of the program. Under contract with DHS, the coalition is providing marketing and outreach for 30 farmers markets in the Twin Cities metro area so that more residents know they can use EBT cards at farmers markets and stretch their dollars further with Market Bucks.
Visit z.umn.edu/farmersmarkets to see a map of farmers markets across Minnesota that are participating in the 2014 EBT and Market Bucks Initiative. For more information about SNAP, contact county social service agencies or call the Minnesota Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151.
Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.