Assistance for Low-Income Vermonters
Farmers markets provide the best in local and fresh produce. Realizing the nutritional benefits of fresh produce, federal and state agencies and non-profit organizations provide low-income families with access to farmers markets through various programs. By participating in these programs, farmers markets and vendors benefit from increased customer sales. Three programs that exist are below:
Farm to Family Coupons
The Vermont Farm to Family Program has two goals: (1) to get nutritionally at risk people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and (2) to expand the use of farmers’ markets. In Vermont, the Department for Children and Families Economic Services Division (ESD) manages the program in partnership with the Department of Health and the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. Program participants receive $30 a year in coupons redeemable only for fresh locally-grown produce sold at farmers' markets.
Vermonters are receiving over $8 million a month in federal SNAP benefits (called 3SquaresVT in our state). At a farmers’ market, 3SquaresVT benefits can be used to purchase all types of unheated food, including meats, bread, eggs, produce, and even vegetable plant seedlings. Because these benefits are now issued in the form of an Electronic Benefit Transfer card (EBT), the market needs an electronic card reader to be able to accept benefits in exchange for food.
Most farmers’ markets need a wireless machine since markets typically do not have access to electrical and phone outlets. If your market does have access to an electric source and a phone line, you can receive a free card reader from the Food Stamp Program that accepts EBT cards only. If not, you will want to consider whether or not your market would like to invest in a wireless electronic card-reader.
Although they are expensive, wireless card readers can enable your market to accept EBT, Debit and Credit. There are also a number of grants and programs that can help markets get card-readers and set-up programs to accept EBT.
To learn what farmers markets in Vermont currently accept EBT, visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com for more details.
Vermont Foodbank Gleaning
The Vermont Foodbank acts as a resource for market managers and/or growers that want to donate their remaining food at the end of the market day. The Foodbank will supply a list of local food shelves with their contact phone numbers and make recommendations about which ones might be a good choice to call. This appraoch keeps food local and reduces transportation issues.
PO Box 254
South Barre, VT 05670