Program allows shoppers to use food stamps at farmers markets

Posted on: 8:46 pm, June 10, 2012, by , updated on: 10:41pm, June 10, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY – As farmers markets across Utah open for the season, a program that will allow people on food stamps to fresh local produce is in the works. Utahns Against Hunger is installing machines that enable those on food stamps to purchase goods at the markets.

The Downtown Farmers Market, which opened for its 20th season this weekend, has been accepting food stamps since 2008. The first year the Downtown Farmers Market accepted food stamps, $9,000 was used. Last year, that number had increased to $20,000.

Marti Woolford, who works with Utahns Against Hunger, says the program provides a new source of revenue for local farmers selling their goods at the market.

People on food stamps or SNAP benefits can swipe their Horizon debit card on a wireless machine at the market. Money is deducted from the account and wooden tokens are supplied and used like cash. Food stamp rules and regulations do apply at the market, just as in a grocery store.

“We encourage food stamp recipients to take advantage of this opportunity to buy fresh fruits and veggies that are local,” said Woolford.

Eleven markets across the state accept food stamps, with the Park Silly market in Park City being the newest member. To see the list, visit www.uah.org.