(CNSNews.com) – In a blog posted on Friday on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website, the department boasts that food stamp spending at U.S. farmers markets has increased “nearly six-fold” since 2008.
“National SNAP redemptions at those outlets totaled $18.8 million during fiscal year 2014 (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), a nearly six-fold increase since 2008,” the blog states, calling the increase “a win-win for all.” (SNAP is the acronym for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the food stamp program.)
“All Americans, including those participating in our nutrition assistance programs, need to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet,” Concannon said. “America’s farmers have an important role to play in addressing that need in communities across the country.”
“Since 2008, the number of SNAP-authorized farmers, roadside farm stands, and farmers markets grew dramatically, from 753 to in excess of 6,400, more than eight times the number these types of vendors accepting SNAP when the Obama Administration took office,” the press release states.
Calling food stamp payment at farmers markets a “top priority” for the USDA, the department is providing free wireless equipment to “qualifying farmers and farmers markets,” said the department.
The agency also recently awarded $31.5 million to local, state and national organizations “to support programs that encourage SNAP participants to buy more fruits and vegetables, including the fresh produce found at America’s farmers markets and direct marketing farm outlets.”
Concannon said farmers markets help get fresh produce to people who live in “food deserts.”
“Without farmers markets, roadside farm stands and farmers who sell directly to the public, residents of these communities may have to travel to grocery stores outside their area to obtain fresh produce or make-do with processed foods,” Concannon said.
In its blog, the USDA said, “Farmers markets create the ultimate win-win-win scenario. They provide consumers access to locally grown fruits, vegetables, and other foods, while also giving farmers the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with their customers.”
Overall food stamp participation and spending has also increased since 2008, according to USDA. In 2008, the food stamp program had an average monthly participation of 28,233,000 beneficiaries, and spent a total of $37,639,640,000, says USDA. In 2014, the program had an average monthly participation of 46,537,000 and spent a total of $74,157,710,000.