Harrisburg, PA – This week, Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller toured the Broad Street Market to meet vendors that accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and discuss the role farmers markets play in making fresh, locally sourced foods more accessible around Pennsylvania, and opportunities for people using SNAP benefits to redeem benefits at up to double their value.
“A person’s diet plays a critical role in a person’s development and long-term health outcomes. Nutritious, healthy foods are less expensive than medicine, but can be as effective for preventing or managing some health conditions,” said Miller. “Farmers markets make fresh, nutritious, locally sourced food more accessible in all communities, including traditionally under-served areas. These markets are both an economic hub for Pennsylvania farmers and small businesses and an important resource for people who might not otherwise be able to access these products.”
SNAP is the nation’s most important anti-hunger program, helping more than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians purchase food from their local grocery stores and farmers markets. Farmers markets give SNAP recipients the power to purchase nutritious, locally sourced food with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Access cards, and some farmers markets across the state are able to accept SNAP benefits at up to double their normal value through Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grants from the United States Department of Agriculture.
In turn, SNAP has a positive impact on state and local economies by supporting grocers and local farmers markets. Across the commonwealth, more than 10,000 authorized retailers participate in SNAP. Nearly $2.7 billion dollars in SNAP benefits were redeemed in 2017, supporting local grocery stores, farmers, and other small business owners and jobs in Pennsylvania communities. SNAP benefits are 100 percent federally funded.
In September 2016, the Wolf Administration’s Food Security Partnership released Setting the Table: A Blueprint for a Hunger-Free PA, a comprehensive strategy to reduce hunger in Pennsylvania. The plan includes a goal of increasing SNAP acceptance at farmers markets and opportunities for double SNAP use.
“The Broad Street Market provides customers with culturally diverse options for locally grown and organic produce and meats for individuals who receive SNAP benefits,” said Beth Taylor, the Broad Street Market’s Manager. “The City of Harrisburg is considered a food desert, which creates more barriers to nutrition for citizens, but that is why we feel the work we are doing here is so important.”
The United States Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as areas of the country where at least 500 people or 33 percent of that area’s population resides more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store. In rural and urban food deserts, farmers markets may be the only source of affordable, fresh meats and produce.
The DHS SNAP Challenge runs September 24 – 28. For more information, please visit our SNAP Challenge website.
To find farmers markets that accept EBT, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/ebt/snap-and-farmers-markets.