Farmers markets open outdoor venues with open arms

Article written by Amy Macemon, Healthy Communities Coordinator/FoodWise Educator for Extension Kenosha and Racine Counties.

Originally published in the Kenosha News.

Farmers’ market: A food market at which local farmers sell fruit and vegetables and often meat, cheese, and bakery products directly to consumers.

This definition doesn’t fully capture the sensation of a farmers market.

Let’s try this…

“With the warm breeze on your skin, you see the smiling face of a friendly farmer selling vegetables harvested that morning. They’re proud to bring you fresh, nutritious foods. As you walk through the market, you smell a ripe cantaloupe and overhear how to prepare asparagus, a vegetable you’ve been curious to try. You walk up to them and they gladly share their favorite way to prepare asparagus with you.”

Ahh, now that’s more like it.

At the many Kenosha farmers markets (see a list at https://www.rkcaa.org/food-nutrition/food-nutrition-kenosha/senior-veggie-voucher-program), there is a buzzing sense of community, comradery and compassion. With many markets shooting for an early May outdoor opening date, I want to elaborate on the community & compassion components of the markets to share how they are taking BIG steps to increase market accessibility.

FoodShare Quest Card Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) at Markets

Did you know many Kenosha farmers markets accept FoodShare, Wisconsin’s food supplement benefit to assist those with low and limited incomes access healthy foods? Check out page 40 of the Farm Fresh Atlas to see which area markets accept EBT (https://farmfreshatlas.org/assets/documents/Southeastern-WI-Farm-Fresh-Atlas-2020.pdf).

Market Match Programs

For those markets that do accept EBT, some are going further with a Market Match program which allows EBT purchases to be doubled between $10-25 PER MARKET! Talk about getting more bang for your EBT buck.

These programs are community and grant funded. Currently, Kenosha HarborMarket (KHM) and Kenosha Public Market (KPM) host these programs. Recently, KPM has worked to grow its fund by making online donating an option. If you’re interested in supporting this program, visit https://www.kenoshapublicmarket.com/ to make a donation.

Market Vouchers from WIC

WIC hosts the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and Senior Veggie Voucher (SVV) programs. The FMNP is supported by the WIC program and provides five $6 checks, totaling, $30 for WIC families to use between June 1 and Oct. 31 at eligible farmers markets. For more information, visit https://www.rkcaa.org/food-nutrition/food-nutrition-kenosha/wic. Keep an eye out as there is an expected increased dollar amount coming this year!

The SVV program is supported through community donations and provides income-eligible seniors 60+ $25 dollars in vouchers to buy fresh produce. If you are interested in supporting the SVV program, consider making an online donation today at https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=TYHRR2TE4VZ2A.

If you are a farmer and interested in accepting either WIC program, reach out to Pam Halbach at phalbach@rkcaa.org.

As the Healthy Communities Coordinator for UW-Madison’s Division of Extension, I seek to make the healthy choice the easy choice with the goal of increasing health and health equity in our community. I am fortunate to be able to collaborate with many organizations in Racine and Kenosha and take pride in being able to promote their efforts while working to identify and support new projects needed in our communities.

To learn more about efforts we’ve taken on to address changes in policies, systems, and environments to make the healthy choice the easy choice, visit us at https://kenosha.extension.wisc.edu/policy-systems-and-environment-change/.

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