Farmers market accepting EBT cards

Published 9:48 am Monday, August 4, 2014

Austin Farmers Market

For the Herald

Access to fresh, affordable food continues to be a challenge that low-income Minnesotans face as they strive to eat healthier. Fortunately, the Austin Farmers Market, located at 501 Oakland Ave E., like many other markets across the state, will be making it easy for low-income Minnesotans to take advantage of the fresh and healthy foods the markets have to offer.

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Recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are able to use their benefits at a growing number of Minnesota farmers markets. This season, SNAP shoppers will be able to use EBT cards at more than 70 farmers markets across the state to purchase Minnesota grown fruits, vegetables and other products of farm and field—fresh foods that low-income shoppers may not find readily otherwise, especially in areas that lack a full service grocery store.

In the face of substantial challenges, farmers markets have found it difficult to adopt a means to accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards, the means by which SNAP recipients receive and spend their benefits and that replaced paper food stamps about a decade ago. Farmers markets believe the effort to overcome the barriers preventing SNAP recipients from using their benefits at the market to be worthwhile. EBT at farmers markets not only makes access to healthier foods easier for those using SNAP, it also drives more federal dollars into the local economy and the pockets of Minnesota growers.

“This is the fourth year the Austin Farmers Market has participated in the program,” said Karl Milliron. “This work not only benefits our local farmers and economies, but also gives people affordable options to eat fresh and healthy foods.”

The Austin Farmers Market, along with 60-plus markets, is also collaborating with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) to enable SNAP recipients to stretch their benefits further with a special incentive called “Market Bucks.” The incentive matches EBT card purchases with up to $5 worth of coupons each market day that customers can use to purchase additional SNAP-eligible foods at participating farmers markets. The Market Bucks program can be used during the same trip or anytime during the 2014 market season.

This year initiatives that lower barriers at farmers markets for low-income customers have the potential to be particularly valuable. The cost of fresh produce at grocery stores nationwide is poised to jump due to continued droughts in California. Items like lettuce, tomatoes and broccoli could see prices increases of as much as 20 percent in the coming months, making the locally grown produce found at the farmers market as attractive for people’s wallets as it is for their health.

The Austin Farmers Market operates from 4 to 7 p.m. every Monday and Thursday, and from 9 to noon every Saturday. It is located at 501 Oakland Ave E., across the street from the Hardy Geranium. For more information on the market, please visit: or find them on facebook at

Visit: to see a full list of farmers markets across Minnesota that are accepting EBT and participating in the 2014 Market Bucks program.