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USDA to widen farmer's market access

The USDA is trying to make farmer's markets more accessible to consumers who do not have the means to pay by cash, which is so often a required feature of the markets.

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan this week announced a $4 million grant for states to help implement wireless technology that will allow more farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, or food stamps.

Markets need wireless Internet or land-line connections in order to accept payments from customers using government benefits, a system known as Electronic Benefits Transfer.

Small markets can not always afford such technology themselves.

it is feared that those unable to pay by cash are missing out on healthy food, at reasonable costs. Health experts say a lack of affordable healthy food in low-income communities is directly related to high obesity levels.

"The retail food environment is not the same in every neighborhood," Brian Smedley of the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies said last week at a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention obesity summit.

Source: articles.philly.com

Publication date: 5/14/2012


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