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AHA fosters and supports community efforts to make healthy eating and physical activity the way of life in Wake County.

More Local Foods for More People: Food Assistance Recipients Can Shop Wendell and Fuquay-Varina Farmers’ Markets!

thank a farmer photoWhen the Wendell Farmer’s Market and the Growers Market of Fuquay-Varina open this spring for the 2013 season, both markets will offer people who are receiving government food assistance the opportunity to buy healthy, fresh and local produce at their markets to feed their families.

Thanks to grant funds from the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program and support from AHA, Wake County Cooperative Extension and Wake County Human Services, the markets will accept EBT, debit and credit cards this season. The Wendell Farmers’ Market opens on April 13, and the market in Fuquay-Varina opens on May 4. AHA and its partners have been working over the winter to help the markets acquire EBT equipment, develop marketing materials in English and Spanish, and help them get the word out in their communities.

The promotional  effort will include fliers, posters and other printed materials, as well as ads in the Eastern Wake News, the Southwest Wake News and La Connexion Spanish newspaper. Wake County Human Services staff also will educate food assistance recipients of the opportunity to shop local farmers’ markets.

All shoppers have the option to swipe their EBT, debit or credit card at the market information tent. In return they will receive wooden tokens that may be used like cash. They then shop the market and pay vendors with the tokens. The markets then pay the farmers afterwards.

strawberriesMarket Match—Free Food for Families in Need!

For families who are receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly food stamps) to feed their families, the new program offers them the same opportunity others have to shop for local food.  As an extra incentive to bring these shoppers to market and to help them stretch their food dollar, both the markets are running a Market Match program where they will match EBT cardholder’s purchases up to $5 per week while funding lasts.  For example, if an EBT cardholder purchases $5 in tokens, the market will give him or her 5 extra tokens, and the shopper will be able to buy $10 worth of food for just $5.

Increasing Access to Healthy Foods

This effort not only is part of AHA’s mission to increase access to healthy food, but it supports farmers’ markets in Wake County and the local farmers serving these markets. Families in these communities have limited access to affordable, healthy local foods, but EBT acceptance at the markets will provide a convenient access point for fresh produce and improve the health of residents in these communities. In April 2012, 83,440 citizens in Wake County were receiving Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) benefits, and 38,065 households were receiving benefits, according to Wake County Human Services.

EBT at Other Markets in Wake County

The markets in Wendell and Fuquay-Varina join the Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market and the Western Wake Farmers’ Market in Cary if offering this opportunity for healthy food access to citizens in Wake County. Some vendors at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh also accept EBT cards, but not all vendors there are growing food in North Carolina. So buyers who want to purchase locally grown foods should ask the vendors where they are growing.

Wake County citizens can learn more about SNAP benefits, eligibility requirements and how to apply at the Wake County Human Services web site.

This map shows all the farmers’ markets located in Wake County.

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