July 25, 2012
By Denise Donley
Up to 50 farmers’ markets across Illinois will receive free wireless machines that accept Link, debit and credit cards as part of the Illinois Electronic Benefits Transfer Wireless Project.
Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon and Administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service Audrey Rowe made the announcement Tuesday that one in three farmers’ markets statewide will accept food stamp benefits for the first time.
"We have customers who may not have access to fresh produce are able to purchase that produce, says Rowe. "We have Illinois farmers who now have new markets for their products. Farmers Markets support rural economy. They provide access to healthy foods. They foster economic development."
Rowe says there are 2400 farmers markets in Illinois that now accept link cards, which is an economic opportunity for farmers.
The Quincy Farmers Market was accepting EBT cards before November 2011.
“I think the new Farmers Market wireless EBT program is great,” said HQBD Executive Director Travis Brown. “It will really expand opportunities to fresh produce to those who need it the most. Unfortunately, the Quincy Farmers Market isn't eligible to participate in the program because we were accepting the EBT cards prior to November of 2011. However, I can tell you that we see first-hand how the program benefits those utilize the SNAP or LINK program and we are happy to be able to accept those cards.”
Simon sees Farmers Markets is good for the “health of residents of the state of Illinois and health of our economy.”
Simon adds, "We're going from about three years ago when just one in 20 farmers markets had these wireless machines and to the result of this grant about every 3rd Farmers Market will have these machines. More people have access to food. More farmers have access to customers throughout the state. That means more dollars are staying in the state of Illinois and circulating around here.”
For more information on Illinois Farmers Markets, visit www.usda.gov