Continuing previous steps to improve access to fresh produce for SNAP recipients, USDA Undersecretary Kevin Concannon Monday announced additional grant eligibility for increasing wireless point-of-sale equipment access at farmers markets and for direct-marketing farmers.
The funding is provided through the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012. Funds may be used to purchase or lease equipment or pay for wireless access and will be available to states through Sept. 30, 2013.
"These 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," said Concannon.
"In general, research shows that about 20 cents of every SNAP dollar spent on food ends up in the pocket of American farmers. Installing wireless technology at farmers markets expands the customer base for markets and increases the share of the SNAP dollar that goes directly back to local farmers and into local economies," he added.
USDA estimates that in 2008, about 750 farmers markets and direct marketing farmers accepted SNAP. In 2012, over 3,200 participated – a four-fold increase in markets, which was accompanied by a six-fold increase in redemptions at these outlets.
Many farmers markets and direct marketing farmers value their ability to accept SNAP as a means to attract a wider customer base and increase sales, USDA said. At the same time, a significant number cited the cost of electronic benefit transfer equipment as a barrier to accepting SNAP.
To learn more about accepting SNAP benefits at farmers markets, click here.