Sep 30, 2010

Subsidising good food

Here in Seattle, the farmers' markets are often the best place to find locally and sustainably produced food.  Unfortunately there's a bit of a perception that they're an expensive luxury, unaffordable to many people.  This is not generally true, but the perception can be enough to scare people away, so the Neighborhood Farmers' Market Alliance has been working to break it down.  For some time, they've accepted food stamps in many forms, and today they announced a new initiative:

The Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA) brings equal access to local food by offering a $10 bonus to EBT (food stamp) users during autumn’s peak harvest.
...From Wednesday, September 29, through Sunday, October 10, the NFMA will provide all EBT cardholders with $10 in Market Bucks per day when they purchase at least $10 with their EBT cards.  The Market Bucks are unrestricted cash equivalents in $2 increments, and may be used at any of the NFMA’s seven neighborhood farmers markets until December 31, 2010.  “We’ve seen a dramatic increase in EBT use at our markets, up 60-200% at some of our larger markets like the U-District and West Seattle. But these customers are still a fraction of our customer base. It’s been a hard season for farmers, and many people are still out of work, so this is a way for us to support both groups,” says Chris Curtis, Executive Director of the NFMA.
The Market Bucks program was launched earlier this year as a stimulus program for farmers, and has already resulted in $5000 worth of coupons redeemed by farmers market customers. Curtis explains, “We decided to fund the Market Bucks program to help farmers after the economic downturn last year, but with this year’s weather negatively affecting many crops, it was more important than ever to give their sales a boost.” 
EBT card holders can experience their own economic boost at the following locations:
Columbia City Farmers Market, Wednesdays 3-7pm: Sept 29 and Oct 6
Lake City Farmers Market, Thursdays 3-7pm: Sept 30 and Oct 7 
Phinney Farmers Market, Fridays 3-7pm: Oct 1 only
U-District Farmers Market, Saturdays 9am-2pm: Oct 2 and 9
West Seattle Farmers Market, Sundays 10am-2pm: Oct 3 and 10
Broadway Farmers Market, Sundays 11am-3pm: Oct 3 and 10
The $10 EBT Bonus Program is paid for by the NFMA, a non-profit organization that runs seven vibrant, food-only farmers markets throughout Seattle.

We're very pleased to see this: everything good about farmers' markets is worth more, the fewer barriers there are to every single person being able to shop there.

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