Buying fresh is a SNAP at Keller Farmers Market

Posted Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A trip to a farmers market for fresh produce may seem out of reach for people struggling financially.

But organizers of the Keller Farmers Market say eating fresh, locally grown food should be an option for everyone, including those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

Not only can SNAP users purchase food at the market with their electronic benefits card (the Lone Star Card), dollars spent will be matched up to $10 per week by the market.

Eligible items include fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, baked goods, jams and jellies and honey. They can also purchase vegetable plants and potted herbs.

“That’s forty dollars a month more into their food budget,” said Patricia Eltiste, market manager.

SNAP, a federally funded program that delivers monthly nutrition benefits to more than 40 million people nationwide, provides benefits to 3.5 million in Texas.

In 2010, Keller Farmers Market began accepting the Lone Star Card but there are not very many people taking advantage of the program.

“In seven weeks, we’ve done six transactions for SNAP, yet we’ve had more than seven-thousand people visit the market,” Eltiste said.

Last year, the market issued a total of $318 in SNAP and matched $178, Eltiste said.

The numbers are low compared to how many in the area are receiving government assistance.

According to enrollment statistics from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, 220,409 people in Tarrant County received SNAP benefits in May.

In Keller, current data shows 7,824 students are on the free or reduced lunch program, which equates to 23 percent of students who purchase lunch from the district, said Bryce Nieman, web communications coordinator for Keller ISD.

Eltiste said despite the low turnout in users, the market will continue to participate in the program, which costs the market about $40 per month.

A plan is also in the works for the market to someday accept the Women, Infants and Children program. WIC provides supplemental foods to promote good health for pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, infants and children up to age five.

For more information , go to Keller Farmers Market

Susan McFarland, 817-390-7547 Twitter: @susanmcfarland1

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