City officials today joined representatives of the Farmers Market Federation of New York, the Humpty Dumpty Foundation and the Friends of the Rochester Public Market to announce an exciting new program aimed at enhancing community nutrition.
“I am proud to announce that beginning July 5, those with food stamp benefits will be able to use their food stamp (EBT) card in a new and convenient way at several area markets including the Rochester Public Market,” said Charles Reaves, Commissioner of the Dept. of Recreation and Youth Services. “Customers will be able to “swipe” their EBT cards at a central terminal at the Public Market to receive $1 wooden tokens, which will function as cash at the Market.”
In addition to the Rochester Public Market, EBT Tokens will be available at the South Wedge, Westside, Irondequoit and FoodLink farmers markets.
The goal of this program is for food stamp customers to more easily obtain affordable, farm fresh foods at farmers markets, which are an excellent and highly economical alternative to convenience or grocery stores. The tokens can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy products, baked goods, processed foods and even seeds and plants which produce foods.
To kick-start the program, each time a food stamp customer purchases $5 in tokens, they will receive an additional $5 N.Y. Fresh Check certificate to spend at the market. “The Farmers Market Federation of N.Y. is excited to partner with the Humpty Dumpty Foundation and the City of Rochester to bring the N.Y. Fresh Checks to the community”, said Diane Eggert, Executive Director of FMFNY. “The checks are like an invitation; we are confident that once customers visit the Market, they will want to return.”
The potential for those who can benefit from the token program is significant. In Monroe County, over 39,000 households receive food stamps, benefitting more than 78,000 individuals at a cost of more than $8 million per month. The program will allow farmer’s markets, often the most affordable outlet for farm-fresh, nutritious produce, to be accessible to holders of EBT Benefit cards.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone, both farmers and food stamp customers”, said Jim Farr, the City’s Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation who oversees the operation of the Rochester Public Market. “Food stamp customers will now have access to the freshest, healthiest produce and products that New York State has to offer. We are grateful to the Friends of the Public Market, our volunteer organization for their efforts to launch this new program.” Anyone interested in joining the Friends of the Market is invited to call the Market office for more information at 428-6907.