There are over 250 farmers markets in North Carolina, and these markets have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables grown locally in your community. If you haven’t stopped by a farmers’ market, it’s definitely worth a trip. You’ll likely find yourself going back week after week.
Shopping at the farmers’ market has many benefits: (1)
- Produce picked in season has the best flavor and nutrition. Nothing beats a ripe tomato in the summer time. Or a fresh-picked juicy peach! The farmers’ market will have a delicious selection of seasonal produce.
- Support local businesses and farmers. When you visit the farmers’ market you may meet the person that grew the corn or baked the bread you’re buying. By purchasing local products, you support the local economy. According to USDA research, every $5 of federal SNAP/Food Stamp benefits generates nearly twice that in economic activity. (2)
- Use your EBT card. There are at least 40 markets across North Carolina that accept FNS/SNAP benefits, and that number continues to grow.
To find out if your farmers’ market accepts FNS/SNAP benefits, you can use the USDA’s Farmers’ Market search tool and select “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)” under payment options. Keep in mind that new markets are applying to accept FNS/SNAP every day, so it’s a good idea to contact your farmers’ market directly, if it isn’t listed yet.
Using your EBT card at the farmers’ market might be a little different than shopping at the grocery store, but it’s still simple. At some farmers’ markets, vendors that accept FNS/SNAP can swipe your EBT card to make purchases – just like at the grocery store.
Other markets use a token system for purchases. At these markets, there is a booth where you can swipe your EBT card and receive $1 tokens for the amount you’d like to spend at the market. You use the tokens like cash to shop at the market. If you have unused tokens, just return them to the EBT booth and the unspent money will be returned to your EBT card.
Farmers’ markets look forward to welcoming new customers. If you have questions about how to use your EBT card to make purchases, don’t hesitate to ask the market manager or other market staff members.
Check back soon to read about a couple great programs that help you stretch your FNS/SNAP dollars spent at participating farmers’ markets.
1 Top 10 Reasons to Shop at the Farmers’ Market, http://www.nutrition.gov/farmers-markets
2 SNAP/Food Stamps Provide Real Stimulus, http://frac.org/initiatives/american-recovery-and-reinvestment-act/snapfood-stamps-provide-real-stimulus