In 2011, SNAP food benefit and TANF clients will find it much easier to join the millions of Texans who are rediscovering the nutritional benefits, cost savings and fun of buying food at farmers markets.
Nineteen farmers markets around the state are participating in a year-long pilot program in which the markets will receive electronic point-of-sale terminals that let SNAP clients use their Lone Star cards at the markets. Most of these terminals will be linked wirelessly to HHSCs benefits processing system. The program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agricultures Food and Nutrition Service.
Seven of the 19 farmers markets in the pilot program are in the San Antonio area, and others are in Lubbock, the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Corpus Christi, Abilene, and other Texas cities.
National program sponsors say the purpose of the pilot program is twofold. First, the program should demonstrate that wireless technology makes it possible to extend the SNAP program beyond traditional retail food stores. Second, the program will enable many more SNAP clients to access a fresh food source that nutritionists consider a powerful force for improving family health.
Increasing the number of farmers markets that accept the Lone Star card will help SNAP join forces with a growing movement to improve public health. The number of farmers markets in the United States has tripled to more than 5,200 in the past 15 years. According to USDA estimates, at least 5 million people per week shop at these markets.
So far in Texas, 15 of the 19 farmers markets participating in the pilot have been approved as SNAP participants by the federal Food and Nutrition Service. Below is a complete list of markets that accept the Lone Star card – those in the pilot as well as others that offered the service on their own.