Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 44

FOOD FIGHT CONFERENCE PLENARY 2 - Finberg & panelists people used to be able to use those paper stamps at farmers’ markets. But when it changed to the electronic card, farmers’ markets were not set up to swipe cards. So suddenly a lot of people who had been using food stamps at farmers’ markets were not able to go there anymore and use those benefits. And one of the ways farmers’ markets have been responding to this change is that the market itself has become the hub for accepting food stamps and getting signed . . . very difficult, complicated process, and it’s expensive to be able to have the machinery to swipe cards. So we handle that for the vendors. The way it works is that customers bring their EBT card to the information tent, and they swipe it for how much they want to use of their food stamps. Then we give them one dollar tokens that they use with vendors, and at the end of the day the vendors turn the tokens into us, and we reimburse the vendors from the money that we took in through the card swipe. So that’s a way to be able to get food stamps into the market and for shoppers to be able to use them. But one way that we make that money go farther is that we match the money that someone might use from their card. Our particular market, Montavilla Farmers Market, matches up to ten dollars. So someone uses ten dollars of their own food stamp money off their card, and we give them another ten dollars to use at the market, so they get double the tokens to use with the vendors. And that helps make that money go a little bit farther and get more access to food that I think is healthier, fresher, more local, and has that community aspect of getting to talk with your vendor and ask questions and learn about how the food was produced—with or without pesticides and what kind, if any—and having better information about the food that you’re eating and making that accessible to more people. Besides EBT food stamps, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and senior farmers’ market nutrition checks can be used at the market. This program is just for fruits and vegetables, and people who receive these checks can use them directly at the market. And you can get involved with our market certainly with volunteering at our information tent and helping to distribute tokens and answering people’s questions. But the other thing we need help with is education: a lot of people still don’t know that you can use food stamps at the market, much less know that we’re giving away money to people who use food stamps at the market. So, helping to get that word out, whether you can give a talk to your community about it and help spread the word, is very important. We would love to talk with you about it and give you information and tools to talk with the people you know so that more people know about this and will come to the market and have great experience. BHG: Wonderful. Thank you all so much. As thinkers on food, you all are immersed in this daily. We have just been immersed in it for one day. And I 41