Registration Open for Expand Your Customer Base through WIC, SNAP & Buy Fresh Buy Local

Posted: March 29, 2012

Welcome more customers to your market! More people are seeking out local foods and more people are qualifying for government food assistance programs due to job loss and an aging population. This workshop will give farmers and market managers the tools to attract and welcome assistance recipients and others at the farmers market. April 11, 2012 1:00-4:00 p.m. Penn State Cooperative Extension Office Lewistown, PA

During the afternoon program, Cheryl Burns, Outreach Specialist for Capital RC&D will explain how farmer's markets can accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) through the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card swipe system. We'll learn how to get the EBT machines and implement SNAP at the farmers market. She will explain the fundamentals of the system and how it has been implemented in other markets to increase sales and attract new customers, including debit card users.

Melissa Bishop, Nutrition Education Coordinator for Family Health Council of Central PA, Inc. and Shana Meiser, Manager of the WIC Program in Lewistown, will discuss the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which was established to allow WIC participants greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers. The program provides checks to WIC participants to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables between June 1st and November 30th. Pregnant and postpartum women, breastfeeding mothers, and children are eligible to receive checks. They will review how the checks are issued, WIC participant education when they are issued and how WIC has tried to increase redemption.

Megan Epler, from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), will tell us how the Buy Fresh Buy Local program can benefit local Farmers Markets by promoting their products to people who are searching for locally grown produce. These people value the benefits of produce grown locally and brought fresh to markets by the farmers who grew it but may prefer locating information through sources other than radio and newspapers.

Please join us! Registration for this event is free and open to everyone.