Farmers markets cater to consumers in assistance programs

April 21, 2011
Contact Information:

Heather Friedrich, Department of Horticulture

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Joe Canfield at farmers market

EBT TOKENS -- Fayetteville Farmers Market business manager Joe Canfield shows the EBT (electronic benefits transfer) computer patrons use to buy tokens for purchase of items from market vendors.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Farmers markets in Northwest Arkansas are inviting consumers who qualify for government food assistance to shop with them, said Heather Friedrich, manager of a University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture project to promote farmers markets and healthy food choices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program funded the project, which is being conducted by the U of A System’s Division of Agriculture, the Northwest Arkansas Farmers Market Alliance and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, based in Fayetteville.

Farmers market vendors in Fayetteville, Rogers, Springdale, Bentonville, Siloam Springs, Huntsville, Eureka Springs and Gentry are being trained in the use of the EBT system (electronic benefits transfer) for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) as well as vouchers for consumers in the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program and Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

“We are also working with agencies such as the Cooperative Extension Service and Department of Human Services that serve these consumers to help promote the benefits of farmers markets,” Friedrich said.

Some of the benefits include nutritious and fresh, locally produced products in a setting that often includes fun and educational activities for children and adults, Friedrich said.

“It is really a community affair where consumers get to know local farmers and other shoppers and contribute to the local economy,” Friedrich added.