More Farmers Markets to Accept SNAP Assistance

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 22, 2011 9:30PM

2010_07_link.gif Tribune reporter Monica Eng looks at the increase in farmers markets that will be able to accept LINK Cards this summer. City officials said a couple of years back that it would be too hard to make this happen in official city farmers markets. Then the Woodlawn-based non-profit organization the Experimental Station, which runs the 61st Street farmers market, said "really?" and helped set up five markets with the capability to accept LINK cards.

The results were extraordinary. The pilot program brought in $29,000 in food stamp credits. This showed that people with LINK Cards will shop at farmers markets if they have the ability to redeem their credits. And if folks receiving SNAP assistance can shop at farmers markets, some of them might be able to change their diet and eating habits, which can have a positive effect on obesity and other nutrition-related health risks.

Experimental Station has helped the city expand the program when farmers markets return next month. Some markets will double the value of food stamp value through a grant from the Wholesome Wave Foundation. With Gov. Quinn signing the Farmers Market Technology Improvement Act into last fall, the program puts the 10 farmers markets that are part of Experimental Station's program ahead of the curve as far as being compliant with the law.

The following farmers markets are at Lincoln Square and Federal Plaza on Tuesdays; South Shore, Pullman Market and Hyde Park on Wednesdays; Division Street and Bridgeport on Saturdays and Beverly and Wicker Park on Sundays.