Food Stamps Come to Farmers Markets

Aug 19, 2012 04:00 AM EDT | By Sharon Robinson

Farmers markets will soon be accepting food stamps. This comes as a result of a federal grant of $4 million to provide around 4,000 farmers markets across the country with the right equipment to begin accepting food stamps.

The first recipient of the grant is the Abingdon Farmers Market in Virginia, according to a report in WCYB.

Food stamp usage has gone up in the last couple of years. Around 49 million people are reported to be participating in the program. The program, recently renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was introduced to help low-income families get nutritious food.

Thousands of grocery stores across the U.S. have already begun accepting food stamps, in lieu of cash. But, the purchases made by the people are far from healthy. Millions of food stamp privileges are reportedly being used to buy junk food and high-calorie food with no particular nutritional value.

Food stamp frauds are also on the rise. Many grocery store owners have been noted to cash in more than average in food stamp benefits. Buyers, on the other hand, have been reaping the benefits of the program, claiming that their credit or debit cards have been stolen, especially in the state of Minnesota. As a result, the federal government recently introduced harsher punishment for food stamp fraud, in the hopes of bringing down the rates of fraud.

The new rules have also made it harder to become beneficiaries of the SNAP.

But, the federal government continues to hope that the program will be most helpful to those who cannot afford to buy food, especially since the drought is likely to hike food prices more this year as well as the next. 

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