Pennsylvania Nonprofit to Provide SNAP Card Readers to Farmers Markets

      Posted On: March 1, 2010

A new program will provide food stamp and debit card readers to farmers markets in South Central Pa., allowing vendors to increase sales and better serve a low income market, according to Capital RC&D, a regional nonprofit organization.

The program will enable local open-air farmers markets to take advantage of the growing use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards, commonly known as food stamps, at farmers markets and will provide greater access to the freshest and best products grown in the region.

The amount of food stamps redeemed at farmers markets in Pennsylvania increased 120% last year, according to Stacy Miller, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition.  Pennsylvanians received $1.8 billion in food stamps in 2009.

“Low-income neighborhoods throughout the region have a limited number of supermarkets and other whole food options that are easily accessible,” said Program Manager Susan Richards.

“Enabling farmers markets to accept swipe cards will increase access to nutritious, fresh and locally-produced food for diverse communities.”

Richards also expects the combination of swipe card readers and marketing assistance to boost sales for farmers markets that participate in the program.

Capital RC&D will train vendors to operate the machines, which process debit and SNAP cards, and will help markets to develop a record-keeping system for the transactions.

The organization will also provide a marketing toolkit to help markets with advertising and outreach, and a consumer education toolkit with information about nutrition, supporting local agriculture and the location of farmers markets that accept SNAP.

Capital RC&D hopes to serve up to 10 open-air markets in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties. The program is funded by a grant from the Agricultural Marketing Service under the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Farmers markets should contact Susan Richards at (717) 241-4361 or for more information or to apply for the program.

The Capital RC&D (stands for Resource Conservation and Development) Area Council is a regional non-profit organization that networks people, resources and projects to promote responsible use and conservation of our region’s natural, community and economic resources.  Capital RC&D is an equal opportunity employer and provider.