Celebrate National Farmers Market Week Aug. 5-11

National Farmers Market Week 2012 is August 5th-11th and there are many reasons to celebrate.

Through a collaborative effort between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), the City of Minneapolis and eight Minneapolis-based farmers markets, affordable, healthy food is now even easier to buy for Minnesotans who receive food support as part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Eight participating farmers markets in Minneapolis now accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards so that SNAP recipients can purchase healthy foods at these markets (six markets participated last year). Minneapolis Farmers Markets continue to accept “Market Bucks” which are coupons that match the first $5 in EBT card purchases with an additional $5 in Market Bucks each market day. As a result of the incentive, a $5 swipe on a customer’s EBT card is turned into $10 in purchasing power.

Acceptance of SNAP and use of EBT at farmers markets is a growing trend in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Health Department – through its Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) grant – installed EBT machines in eight Minneapolis markets. Blue Cross is supporting those eight markets, plus an additional 20 market locations statewide with Market Bucks this year. By comparison, only three farmers markets in Minneapolis offered the service two years ago. For the 2012 growing season, the following Minneapolis farmers markets will be participating:

Begun in 2010, through a federal grant to the City of Minneapolis and in collaboration with Blue Cross, the Market Bucks program and related promotional efforts have boosted SNAP purchases at Minneapolis farmers markets from $3,106 in the season before the program began to $49,823 in 2011. Last year, the participating Minneapolis farmers markets tallied 1,674 customers using EBT and distributed $17,462 in Market Bucks.
 

Visit the City's website to find a map and list of farmers markets throughout Minneapolis.
 

Published Aug. 7, 2012