USDA Taking Steps to Help More Farmers Markets Accept SNAP Benefits

USDA is expanding eligibility for grants to improve access to fresh produce and healthy foods by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients at farmers' markets. Last year - USDA expanded the availability of wireless point-of-sale equipment in farmers markets not currently accepting SNAP benefits as a result of funding provided by Congress through the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012. Monday's action expands eligibility for grant funds to include direct marketing farmers - as well as farmers markets. The funds can be used to purchase or lease equipment or pay for wireless access. USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon says the grants increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables to SNAP customers and further encourage them to purchase and prepare healthy foods for their families using SNAP benefits. He says the installation of wireless technology at farmers markets will also expand the customer base for markets and increase the share of the SNAP dollar that goes directly back to local farmers and into local economies.

Expanding access to fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP recipients through farmers markets has been a USDA priority in recent years. About 750 farmers markets and direct marketing farmers accepted SNAP in 2008. That number increased to over 32-hundred in 2012.

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