The South Side’s Experimental Station has received a $250,000 Farmers Market Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Support Grant.
The Experimental Station supports Hyde Park’s 61st Street Farmers Market, as well as other markets on the South Side, and seeks to foster Chicago’s cultural infrastructure.
The SNAP program provides nutritional assistance to low-income residents of the South Side, who receive monthly benefits through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. The grant received by farmers markets will help to ensure that EBT cards can be used for the purchase of groceries at participating markets.
“The Farmer’s Market SNAP Support Grant program is indeed a necessary initiative. Many farmers markets in Illinois would like to be able to accept SNAP, but do not have the resources [technology and employee training] to do so. The Experimental Station will be able to assist markets throughout Illinois to accept SNAP by providing needed funds to implement and administer their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) / SNAP programs,” said Connie Spreen, founder and executive director of the Experimental Station.
The grant, totaling $8.1 million nationally, is also used for training SNAP employees and raising awareness amongst participants about the opportunity to purchase fresh foods at local markets.
Markets around the nation, like those supported by the Experimental Station, are benefiting from the $34.3 million of new funding issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) by means of four programs. These initiatives are dedicated to local food systems in order to encourage the consumption of locally grown foods and to stimulate rural economies.
“We're excited to be able to help ensure that markets have the resources they need to serve all of the members of their communities, regardless of income level,” Spreen noted.