Though the growing season is over and snow will be falling soon, many farmers markets in Michigan are still open throughout the winter.
Into the winter months or year-round, 16 Michigan farmers markets are accepting food assistance benefits, like Bridge Cards, to help get fresh food onto the tables of the families who need it most. According to the USDA Farmers Market Directory, there are a total of 43 winter and extended season farmers markets in Michigan.
"In Michigan, 1.8 million residents now receives food assistance benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and farmers markets all across Michigan are rising to the challenge to meet that need with fresh, local food," says Amanda Shreve, Manager of Programs and Partnerships at the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA). MIFMA's Food Assistance Partnership leads the effort to increase Bridge Card access at Michigan farmers markets.
Bridge Cards are Michigan's Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) debit cards which are used to dispense federal food assistance dollars via the SNAP program, formerly Food Stamps. During the summer months of2012, clients could use their cards on qualifying foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods and meats at 103 farmers markets, representing 34% of the more than 300 farmers markets operating in the state,.
Most of the farmers markets accepting SNAP benefits are also participating in other food assistance programs, like the Double Up Food Bucks program, Market FRESH and WIC Project FRESH. A full list of the farmers markets that accept Bridge Cards is available at http://mifma.org/category/news/.
MIFMA's Food Assistance Partnership provides information and resources for farmers markets who wish to accept Bridge Cards, including workshops and webinars on how the process works, outreach tools and templates and technical assistance for new and existing Bridge Card programs. Information for clients is also available that describes what foods can be purchased with Bridge Cards and the advantages of redeeming their Bridge Card dollars at participating farmers markets.
Buying locally at farmers markets helps keep money circulating here in Michigan, which is good for the economy and local communities. According to the Food Bank Council of Michigan, it is estimated that for every dollar spent through SNAP in Michigan, $1.80 of local economic activity is generated.
The following Michigan farmers markets have extended seasons and are accepting SNAP benefits:
•Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Ann Arbor
•Bath Farmers Market in Bath
•Boyne City Farmers Market in Boyne City
•City of Springfield Farmers Market in Springfield
•Detroit Eastern Market in Detroit
•Downtown Jackson Grand River Farmers Market in Jackson
•Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers Market in Ypsilanti
•Flint Farmers' Market in Flint
•Fulton Street Farmers Market in Grand Rapids
•Holland Farmers Market in Holland
•Lansing City Market in Lansing
•Meridian Township Farmers Market in Okemos
•Menominee Historic Downtown Farmers Market Association in Menominee
•Monroe Farmers Market in Monroe
•Muskegon Farmers Market in Muskegon
•Sweetwater Local Foods Market in Muskegon
For more information, visit www.mifma.org
or contact Amanda Shreve at 517-432-3381 or firstname.lastname@example.org