Alternatives to food stamps at farmers markets
- Tokens or paper coupons – Many farmers markets, like those in Portland, Ore., offer tokens or paper coupons that can be purchased through the EBT card at one central location. Then they are used like cash at any vendor, but the rules of what can and cannot be purchased with SNAP funds still apply. Fresh produce and meats can be purchased with them, but things like cut flowers, prepared foods, or alcohol can’t be bought with them.
- Alternative Receipt System – This is a system used at some Massachussetts' farmers markets. Snap recipients shop each vendor first and get a receipt from the vendor. But, the vendor holds on to the bag of food. When shopping is done, all receipts are taken to an information booth where the exact amount spent is deducted from the EBT card. A final receipt showing payment has been made is shown to each vendor, and shoppers can pick up their bags.
- Incentives for SNAP users – This isn’t a way to pay using an EBT card, but it’s worth mentioning here. Many farmers markets will actually give extra buying credit to SNAP users because they understand they want people who need assistance from SNAP to get as much healthy food as possible. In Michigan, a program called Double Up Food Bucks matches up to $20 in farmers market purchases by SNAP users at participating markets. At New York City farmers markets, Health Bucks offers a free $2 coupon for every $5 in SNAP money spent at participating markets. These are just two of the many regions that are helping SNAP recipients stretch their benefits.
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