Local Farmers’ Markets to Accept SNAP Benefits

The City of Winter Park will expand access to healthy foods and encourage healthier eating and lifestyle habits in the local community by bringing the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) to the Winter Park and Audubon Park Farmers’ Markets during February 2017. The planning work was a partnership with the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF), Slow Food Orlando, Healthy Central Florida and Gather & Grow LLC. WPHF also awarded a grant to support the hiring of a Farmers’ Market Coordinator to implement the program.

Herbs for sale at the Winter Park Farmers’ Market

A USDA grant via the Florida Farmers’ Market Coalition was secured for the purchase of the EBT equipment along with three (3) years of service for internet access and processing services.  The Audubon Park Farmers’ Market takes place on Monday evenings and the Winter Park Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings.

The City of Winter Park plans to market the SNAP program as part of a menu of services at a newly established market service desk, which will be prominently located at the top of the stairs at the entrance to the interior vendor space at the market. The service desk will advertise a “No Cash, No Problem” program which is intended to serve as an ATM of sorts for the market since many vendors do not accept credit cards. Those customers in need of cash and SNAP recipients, both of whom use debit cards as a means of payment, will receive tokens to use for purchases; therefore enabling the booth to provide services to all customers.

WPHF hopes to partner with the market in the development of the evidence-based, Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program.  These programs are proven to improve access and consumption of fruits and vegetables while additionally improving health outcomes. Physicians and dietitians can provide “prescriptions” for fruits and vegetables to patients in the FVRx program who are SNAP recipients. This “prescription” serves as an incentive for the patient to fill it because it doubles the value of the SNAP benefits when used for fruit and vegetable purchases.