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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: June 28, 2012


WILMINGTON - Clients of Delaware's Electronic Benefit Transfer program can now purchase farm-fresh vegetables, fruit and other items for their families by using their benefit cards at several state farmers' markets, opening up new opportunities for healthy food purchases.

The Delaware Department of Agriculture this year launched a pilot program to offer EBT transactions at three of Delaware's community-run farmers' markets, beginning with $1,000 grants to each of three markets to purchase transaction machines.

If the program goes well, it is expected to expand to more sites next summer, said Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee.

"This is an important first step in connecting more people with fresh, healthy food right off the farm," said Kee, speaking at an event Thursday at Cool Spring Farmers' Market in Wilmington, one of the pilot program participants. "Delaware has tremendous agricultural resources, and we're putting them to work for Delaware families in need with this program."

Leaders said that healthy and getting active is easier than most people think, especially when it involves community-run farmers' markets in local neighborhoods.

"This is a perfect example of successful collaboration between government agencies and community organizations to provide a service that is in the best interest of both the farm economy and people with low incomes," said Rita Landgraf, secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, which administers Delaware's Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).

"I am delighted that Delaware farmers will have this opportunity to reach a new group of purchasers, that our SNAP recipients will have the opportunity to buy fresh produce and that more Delawareans will have healthier food choices available to them."

The three markets in the EBT initiative are Cool Spring Farmers' Market, Wilmington, run by the West End Neighborhood House's Bright Spot Ventures program; Village Fresh Farmers' Market, Wilmington, managed by Greater Brandywine Village Revitalization; and the Co-Op Farmers' Market, Newark, operated by the Newark Natural Foods Co-Op.

Paul Calistro, executive director of the West End Neighborhood House, said the low-income Wilmington residents his agency serves benefit tremendously from the EBT access.

"At West End, we believe in supporting local agriculture and have a long-term commitment to making fresh fruits and vegetables available to those with limited access to such resources," Calistro said.

Clients can swipe their EBT cards at an information booth and receive tokens redeemable like cash at the various market vendors' booths. Vendors then turn the tokens in to the West End booth for payment.

Delaware serves more than 140,000 clients through its Food Supplement Program, which the federal government calls SNAP. About half of those who receive benefits in the state are children.

For photos or additional information, contact:
Jill Fredel, Department of Health & Social Services, 302-255-9047
Dan Shortridge, Department of Agriculture, 302-698-4520
Wes Davis, West End Neighborhood House, 302-888-5305

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.