Nutrition incentive program makes local food accessible to more

The Athens Farmers Market, located on E State St, hosts around 80 local vendors, selling goods like fresh produce, meats, cheeses, honey, flowers, and more. Sixty-five of those vendors accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, the magnetically encoded payment card that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients use to transfer their government-issued benefits to participating retailers.

Since 2007, SNAP recipients have been able to swipe their EBT card at the market, and receive a physical token for each dollar deducted, which they can then exchange for goods at any of the participating vendors. And since 2016, the Produce Perks program matches the dollar amount deducted, up to $20 per visit.

Produce Perks Midwest is a nonprofit organization addressing food insecurity within Ohio. Through their Produce Perks program, the organization partners with over 100 direct-to-consumer vendors, including farmers markets, farm stands, and grocery stores to double Ohioans’ EBT benefits. The program is partially funded by a $2.1 million Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant, which they expect to last until 2021 when they plan to reapply.

The Athens Farmers Market is open from April to December on Wednesdays and year-round on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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