Farmers markets increase food access
Because farmers markets in the Grand Traverse region – and in other regions – are accepting EBT and SNAP benefits, more have access to locally-grown food.
While the Grand Traverse Region is quickly becoming known for its local food and beverage scene with award-winning chefs purchasing greater quantities of locally-grown food every year, a successful community food system needs to provide fresh, local food to all members of our community. One critique of a community food system model is that local food is too expensive. To answer this critique, in 2011 members of the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network – one of several Grand Vision Networks – helped initiate the acceptance of both Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) at several farmers markets in the region.
Better marketing and promotion of the programs has resulted in increased awareness in 2012. We are pleased to report that as of Sept., more than $26,000 in SNAP and DUFB sales has been reported at farmers markets in northwest Michigan. This represents nearly 900 SNAP transactions and 350 first-time SNAP customers. With continued promotion and marketing, we hope to spread awareness and increase these numbers in 2013. Through this effort and others, we can strive to develop a community food system that is healthy, green, fair and affordable in the Grand Traverse region.