Pittsburgh’s farmers markets have long been a popular source of seasonal, locally produced, nutritious and affordable food. Citiparks farmers markets attract thousands of shoppers to seven locations around the city. However, farmers and sustainable food advocates recognize that the real potential of these markets remains untapped. Many local residents are not familiar with the markets or view them as unaffordable for low-income households.
As part of our efforts to fight hunger by expanding access to nutritious food, Just Harvest launched Fresh Access in May 2013. In conjunction with Pittsburgh Citiparks and participating local farmers, this program facilitates food stamp purchases at six Citiparks farmers markets. Customers can now use food stamps via electronic benefit transfer (EBT) to purchase a variety of fresh produce, baked goods, meat and dairy products. Credit and debit cards are also now accepted.
SNAP users can swipe their cards and receive tokens that are accepted by many of the vendors and can be used to purchase food. Those who use the token kiosk for credit and debit card purchases will be asked to contribute $1 per transaction to defray costs of the program.
The Fresh Access program began at the East Liberty and North Side farmers markets before expanding to the other market locations in August 2013. Total sales have reached $30,000, benefiting local farmers and communities.
The Fresh Access program is made possible thanks to months of planning and research. It is a coordinated effort with the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, the City of Pittsburgh, the Heinz School at CMU, local farmers, and many other partners.
Last year, the Farmers@Firehouse market in the Strip (an independent market sponsored by Slow Food Pittsburgh) piloted their own EBT program.
We hope to see you at a Just Harvest kiosk soon!