Thursday, July 29, 2010

Westhampton Beach Farmers Market is first on East End to accept food stamps

Just catching up on East End news... great to learn that the East End is finally accepting food stamps, SNAP, at the farmers market. Now that Westhampton has bought a terminal and set up a token system, I'm hoping the Southampton and Sag Harbor farmers markets begin to accept this federal nutrition program as well.

I know that Bob Lewis of the New York State Department of Ag and Markets met with Bonnie Cannon last year and sent her the forms for WIC and SNAP benefits but so far the Southampton Farmers Market only accepts cash.

For more information on NY State Farmers Market accepting EBT/SNAP benefits cards click here.

Anyhow, kudos to Victoria Hedberg-Kingwell in Westhampton!

Westhampton Beach Farmers Market is first on East End to accept food stamps
By Hallie D. Martin, Publication: The Southampton Press
Not everyone living on the East End can afford to buy fresh vegetables and other nutritious foods, and the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce wants to help change that.

The Westhampton Beach Farmers Market, which the chamber operates Saturdays off Mill Road in the village, started accepting food stamps last month. Victoria Hedberg-Kingwell, the manager of the farmers market, explained that there are around 3,000 year-round residents in the greater Westhampton area, and not all of them have jobs right now. By accepting food stamps at its market, the chamber says it can offer some of those families the opportunity to put fresh and local produce on their tables.
“It provides healthy food for a clientele that does need it,” she said.

Ed Kurosz, the vice president of the chamber, said that everyone, regardless of socioeconomic classes, deserves the opportunity to purchase fresh meats and vegetables. “It’s not only the ├╝ber-affluent,” he said.

The Westhampton Beach Farmers Market is one of only two in Suffolk County that now accept food stamps. According to the Federation of Farmers Markets of New York’s website, the Greater Bellport Coalition Youth Farmers Market, held on Sundays from July to October, also accepts them. Three markets in Nassau County, in Hicksville, Long Beach and Roosevelt, also accept them, as do dozens more in Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx.

The food stamp initiative, called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Individuals who want to use their food stamp benefits at the Westhampton Beach Farmers Market must bring their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, a kind of debit card that is issued by the government, to the chamber tent at the market.

There, a chamber member will swipe the EBT cards at a portable terminal and deduct from them whatever amount that the cardholders request, according to Mr. Kurosz. The deducted money will be transferred to a special bank account opened by the chamber, and the cardholder will receive wooden tokens, in $1 denominations, in exchange. The vendors at the Westhampton Beach Farmers Market are able to accept the tokens as a form of payment and, at the end of the day, exchange them for vouchers. The vendors can then exchange the vouchers for payment, money that will come from the chamber’s dedicated bank account. Read more here.


Eliminate Belly Fat said...

Good for them, every little bit helps! Thanks for your posting.

Ed Kurosz - GWCofC said...

The 2011 Westhampton Beach Farmers' Market will be open Saturdays 9am-1pm May 7th-November 19th. EBT, SNAP & WIC Accepted. 40+ Farmers, Growers & Producers are signed on and ready for opening day !