by Lydia Beers for the Elkhart Truth, May 14, 2013
Market Money makes it easy for customers using food stamps to purchase locally produced food at the Goshen Farmer's Market.
GOSHEN — A local farmers market is working to get fresh food into the hands of as many people as possible.
Lisa Glon, market manager of the Goshen Farmer’s Market, said the market started accepting EBT cards as a payment method last summer.
“Even with it just being a brand-new program, it was a good success,” said Glon. “We want as many people to be able to access the market as possible. If somebody’s food stamp benefits are what they are able to buy groceries with, then (before the program started) they couldn’t shop with us because we couldn’t take that.”
Carol Dulaney of Elkhart County Women, Infants and Children said the Goshen Farmer’s Market program is something people need.
“We try to really help push the program (to WIC clients) because it’s a wonderful thing,” said Dulaney. “For quite a few years, (WIC) has been issuing farmers market checks, but that is only in the summer and it’s a one-time thing. Each family just gets $18 worth of checks to use in a local farmers market.”
Dulaney said before the Goshen Farmer’s Market started accepting EBT as payment, she had nothing to offer as an option.
Now, she makes sure that clients know that they can redeem food stamp benefits at the market.
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross of the Elkhart County Purdue Extension Office, said she believes farmers market vendors are generally eager to help people who may not otherwise have the means to buy fresh food.
“Most people who grow food are very caring people, so it is just in their nature,” said Lienhart-Cross. “They want to provide a good, healthy product and they aren’t going to be judgmental.”
Lienhart-Cross added that she’s seen a strong movement of people realizing the value of farmers markets and roadside produce stands in the past five years.
The Market Money program is funded by the market’s Share the Bounty fundraising campaign. Donations to the Share the Bounty program provide food to low-income families at no cost.
“Part of our Share the Bounty funds are distributed to Maple City Health Care Center, which identifies patients to be recipients,” said Glon. “With the remainder of our Share the Bounty funds we provide EBT customers with a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $10, when they use their benefits at the market. So, if they use $25 of their benefit, we give them $35 in Market Money.”
(read the full article in The Elkhart Truth)