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Olympia Farmers Market program gives food stamp customers more buying power

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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a food assistance program that aids millions of low-income families and individuals.
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The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, is a food assistance program that aids millions of low-income families and individuals.

A program that provided food stamp customers with a little more buying power for locally grown produce at the Olympia Farmers Market will be used again in 2019, the market announced.

The program is called “fresh bucks,” which provides a dollar-for-dollar match up to $20 per day per card-carrying market shopper, according to a news release. Those shoppers use what is called an electronic benefits transfer card, or EBT card.

The program was launched in April 2018 and it found an audience, said John Nason, an office assistant for the market who is familiar with the program. The program is funded by a $30,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that is administered by the state Department of Health.

“Last year (2018) we processed 3,155 transactions for our EBT customers and we matched $30,000 of EBT purchases with fresh bucks,” Nason said in an email Wednesday.

Fresh bucks can be used to purchase fruit, vegetables, herbs, mushrooms and plant starts, according to a news release. Twenty-five local farms are participating in the program, Nason said.

No change is provided after a fresh bucks redemption and they can’t be redeemed for cash, a news release reads.

If you’re an EBT customer who has used the fresh bucks program before, the 2019 fresh bucks distribution will take place between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. this Saturday at the Olympia Farmers Market, 700 Capitol Way N.

The winter market is open Saturdays through March. In April, the hours expand to four days a week through October. In November and December, it is open Saturdays and Sundays. About 400,000 people visit the market per year. It has been around since 1975 and is home to more than 80 vendors.

For more information about fresh bucks, call the farmers market at 360-352-9096.

Rolf has worked at The Olympian since August 2005. He covers breaking news, the city of Lacey and business for the paper. Rolf graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1990.

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