In the summer of 2010, the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support (MDHFS) successfully worked with two farmers markets to help them set up a system to accept EBT cards (also known as ‘food stamps'). CPPW funds helped support staff time needed to run the EBT system during each market day as well as an incentive program that provided EBT customers with up to a $5 match in "Market Bucks." Establishing EBT and Market Bucks at the markets helped increase access to healthy, fresh produce for residents of the city who have lower incomes and who are also at higher risk for obesity and chronic diseases.
In its pilot season, the program was a huge success, with approximately $13,900 in combined EBT sales at the markets, approximately $4,200 in Market Bucks redeemed, and just over 500 customers served. Data showed that there were many repeat customers and the number of EBT transactions at the market grew every month during the peak market season. EBT customers were enthusiastic about the program and grateful to be able to use their food assistance benefits at the markets. One customer said that coming to the market was "the highlight of the week," and another customer said, "I just love it. It's a wonderful opportunity for people with EBT to get fresh fruits and vegetables." Another customer felt like this program especially benefited her children, and she said "...we get lots of good produce here. The kids are eating so much better." MDHFS hopes to continue to support both markets in the 2011 season and to expand the program to other markets across the city.
Learn more about Minneapolis' CPPW work and visit their blog.