Shoppers who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, commonly known as food stamps, at farmer’s markets have been granted some temporary relief.
The State of New York and the New York Farmer’s Market Federation have announced that they will step in to temporarily help farmer’s markets nationwide continue to process mobile SNAP transactions. That transaction system was previously in immediate jeopardy.
It all started on July 2, when Novo Dia, a company that processes 40 percent of SNAP transactions at farmers markets across the country, announced it was going out of business. The decision came after the company lost its contract with the United States Department of Agriculture.
About 40 markets in Georgia and 1,700 markets nationwide previously depended on Novo Dia to process their mobile SNAP transactions. The USDA hired a new company, but it does not process food stamps through wireless services, which many markets depend on.
Since that announcement, there have been some efforts to fix the problem. The National Farmer’s Market Association stepped in to fund Novo Dia until its original shutdown date, August 31. With the August deadline looming, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he would team up with the New York Farmers Market Federation to fund markets until February.
That’s good news for shoppers like Benny Dunn. He’s a regular at the Fresh MARTA Market at the Five Points Station in Atlanta.
Dunn is disabled, and so it can be hard for him to get around. The Fresh MARTA Market allows him to buy fresh produce while using public transit.
“I need this market for fruits and vegetables,” Dunn said. ” Without it, I’d go hungry.”
Sagdrina Jalal, executive director of the Georgia Farmer’s Market Association, said she’s happy to have more time to find a long-term solution.
“The Georgia Farmers Market Association has spent the last few weeks focused on working with our local and national partners to address this issue,” Jalal said. “We appreciate the opportunity this gives us to find a long term solution for Georgia families and farmers.”