Illinois sees increase in food stamp use at farmers markets
The Midwest is a leader in the number of farmers markets accepting food stamps.
This year, several Midwestern states experienced a 36 percent increase in the number of farmers markets that take SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is how foods stamps are referred to these days. Illinois was up by about 33 percent. Overall in the Midwest, sales rose 47 percent over last year.
"There isn’t often access to healthy food, so getting farmers markets into food deserts areas and also getting people familiar with farmers markets and the fresh produce that’s available at those markets is important to do," said Alan Shannon, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Midwest region.
Introducing new produce and vegetables isn't enough. For example, some farmers markets give cooking demonstrations to encourage families to buy and try new healthy food.
The USDA has made it a priority to enroll farmers markets in the food stamp program and helped provide more farmers with the technology to process food stamps.
Midwest Region Farmers Markets and Direct Marketing Farmers (DMF) Count and Redemption Data
2011 Number of Markets/DMF
2012 Number of Markets/DMF
2011 SNAP Redemptions
2012 SNAP Redemptions
2011 / 2012 Redemptions Increase %