Maple Grove Farmers Market makes access to food easy for low-income Minnesotans

Market to accept EBT purchases and participate in Market Bucks program

Low-income Minnesotans may now take advantage of two programs being offered through the Maple Grove Farmers Market that make fresh and healthy foods easier to purchase and more affordable.

For the first time ever, the Maple Grove Farmers Market has signed on to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards—and its decision is part of a growing trend seen across Minnesota. In fact, more than 50 markets throughout the state have agreed to collaborate with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) to enable Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to purchase vegetables, fruits and other SNAP eligible products directly from local farmers.

SNAP participants can also stretch their dollars further with a special incentive from Blue Cross which matches EBT card purchases with up to an additional $5 in “Market Bucks” once each market day. Market Bucks can be used during the same trip or anytime during 2013 market season on SNAP eligible purchases. This is the first year the Maple Grove Farmers Market has participated in the program.

“Our Market is a cornerstone of the Maple Grove community,” said Kirsten Bansen Weigle, Market Manager. “We’re thrilled to celebrate our 10th year by making nutritious, fresh, local food available to even more members of the community.”

The installation of terminals to accept EBT at farmers markets has grown slowly since Minnesota’s food support program moved from paper stamps to electronic form in 1998. Implementing technology that allows SNAP participants to use their benefits at farmers markets provides them access to goods which may otherwise not be readily available, especially in neighborhoods that lack a full service grocery store. It also creates a new customer base for markets and an economic boost whenever new SNAP benefits are redeemed.

“We know many people want to make healthier choices for themselves and their families, but the challenge is making the healthy choice easy and accessible for everyone,” said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross. “Enabling SNAP participants to use their EBT card at their neighborhood farmers market provides them greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables, creates a sense of community and can build demand for further public health improvements at a neighborhood level.”

The Maple Grove Farmers Market is open every Thursday afternoon now through October 23, with the exception of July 4th. Hours are 3 to 7 p.m. from June through September and from 3 to 6 p.m. in October. The Farmers Market is located outside at the Maple Grove Community Center, 12951 Weaver Lake Road. For more information, visit maplegrovefarmersmarket.com. Follow the market at facebook/maplegrovefarmersmarket or on Twitter at Maplegrovefm.

To see a full list of farmers markets across Minnesota that are accepting EBT and participating in the Market Bucks program this season, visit preventionminnesota.com.

To determine eligibility for SNAP call The MN Food HelpLine at 1-888-711-1151.

About Maple Grove Farmers Market

In 2013, the Maple Grove Farmers Market celebrates its 10th year of nourishing the community. The market features 50 vendors, offering Minnesota-grown and vendor-made food items. The market also features weekly live music, 4:30 p.m. Family Storytime, chef demonstrations, Master gardeners, Farmers Market Birthday parties and more.

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