Last year, the Des Moines Farmers Market was one of the leaders in establishing the EBT (Food Stamps) program for farmers market shoppers in the state of Washington, and was one of 150 markets across the United States to do so. The Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA) and the Des Moines Farmers Market is proud to announce a grant program that will enable this year many more people in Washington State to buy fresher, locally-grown foods at the state’s farmers markets. “Washington State’s allocation will allow WSFMA and DSHS to work with more farmers markets to establish systems to accept EBT-SNAP benefits as well as credit and debit cards,” said WSFMA interim executive director Karen Kinney. “These systems have been too expensive for many of our state’s farmers markets, which have always been cash-poor and dependent on large numbers of volunteers to operate. This USDA program is a result of listening sessions and fact gathering from states like ours that have launched innovative demonstration projects related to EBT.” In 2008 the legislature passed the “Local Farms Healthy Kids” initiative which authorized funds that the WSFMA used to help 20 farmers markets of which Des Moines was one, start accepting EBT-SNAP benefits as well as credit and debit cards. Since then, two other projects, one operated by Washington State University (WSU) and one by King County’s Agriculture Program have expanded the number of farmers markets and farmers accepting electronic card payments. Today, there are 65 farmers markets across Washington State that accepts EBT-SNAP benefits. Economic impact studies in recent years have shown that food dollars spent locally have an economic multiplier effect of around 1.5. Increasing EBT-SNAP purchases at farmers markets will help the state’s farmers and bring more money into the rural agriculture communities where many of them live. Kinney noted that WSFMA and DSHS have worked closely together over the years to help the state’s farmers markets accept food benefits. “We look forward to supporting the City of Des Moines’s and the Des Moines Farmers Market ‘Healthy Eating Initiative,'” he added. To get more information on the “Healthy Eating Initiative” and the use of the EBT, SNAP and WIC programs, please visit the Information Booth starting at 10am tomorrow, June 2nd, at the opening day of the Des Moines Farmers Market at their new location at the North end of the Marina.]]>