Food stamps at Farmer’s Markets: Supporting the Local Economy and Helping Residents Eat Healthy

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If you haven’t been keeping up and do not use food stamps then you may not know that the once colorful slips of paper have been replaced by electronic cards, similar to credit cards. In theory these cards could be used anywhere. Why not local neighborhood farmer’s markets?

In New York City the use of food stamps at local markets has doubled in the past year. The NY Times reports that revenue from food stamps can be “70 percent to 80 percent of sales” at some markets in low-income neighborhoods, keeping money in the city and neighborhood by employing local farmers and vendors.

Like New York, St. Louis has several neighborhoods that lack adequate food markets. In New York, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene subsidizes purchases at farmer’s markets, providing a two-dollar token for each five-dollar token purchased as a way to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables purchased. Some programs use tokens dispensed at the markets themselves while others are set up to accept the swipe of a food stamp card. This seems to be a great way to support our local economy while helping people eat healthily.

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