Marlinton Farmers Market Will Now Accept Food Stamps
Marlinton, WV – Each summer, Saturday mornings at the Marlinton Mini Park find a variety of vegetable growers, bakers and crafts people selling their wares at the Marlinton Farmers Market. Beginning June 26, more of their Marlinton-area and Pocahontas County neighbors will be able purchase the food that’s available. That’s when these vendors can start accepting food stamps for their local produce, baked goods, preserves and vegetal garden plant starts.
Amelia Swenson says this is a win-win development for families on limited incomes, as well as the vendors themselves.
“I think a neat motivator behind getting the EBT machine is that it’s such a great way to put this money back into our economy and really support the local farmers in this area,” she says. “So I think it’s a neat way to get this money feeding back into our economy. And it’s a great way to support your neighbors our community here in Pocahontas.”
Swenson worked with both the Farmers Market and West Virginia agencies to obtain the Electronic Benefits Transaction, or EBT, machine that will allow people to use food stamps at the market. She explains how the transactions will take place at the Marlinton Farmers Market.
“To use your food stamps benefits at the Farmers Market, you can go up to the booth with the EBT machine and ask them for a certain amount of money,” she says. “Then they’ll take your food stamp/EBT card and deduct that from your account. They will exchange it for these wooden nickels that you use in one-dollar denominations. So you can go around to all the different booths, and as long as the vendor is happy to accept the tokens, you can exchange them for food and plant starts for your garden and even backed goods.”
In order to have access to electricity and a phone line for the machine, Swenson says the booth with the EBT machine will be located directly across the street from the Farmers Market. While vendors must wait a couple weeks to be reimbursed for EBT purchases, Swenson says most are enthusiastic about the ability to accept food stamps.
“Pretty much all of the vendors have expressed strong interest in it,” Swenson says. “And I think a soon as others if they’re a little wary at first as soon as they see how well it’s working and other people making money, then there’s a lot of potential there.”
For vendors who participate, Swenson outlines how the reimbursement process works.
“The vendors get a receipt for the amount of tokens that they received that day, and then we will be writing them checks out of an account that all the money is getting pooled into,” she says. “We will be giving them reimbursements twice a month, in order to cut down a little bit on the paper work we have to do. Relatively quickly, they’ll get reimbursed for that money.”
Currently, Swenson says the market offers in-season produce, a variety of breads, muffins and other baked goods, jams and jellies, and locally-grown, fresh-ground corn meal. She says both families and vendors will benefit from the ability of the farmers market to accept food stamps.
“I think that the vendors are really excited to open up a different avenue in potential revenues to gain at the market, and to just make their food more accessible to everyone in the community,” Swenson says. “I think it’s a great start.”