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CANTON — For participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, July 1 will be the first day they can receive additional cash when they use their EBT card at a farmers’ market.
The program, run by GardenShare and Field & Fork Network, will work to attract customers to local, healthy food, and away from supermarkets.
“We’re trying to incentivize the use of our local farms,” said Carlene L. Doane of GardenShare.
Its overall goal is also to push fruits and vegetables. The use of EBT cards can range from a variety of products, but the money SNAP users receive, which will be capped at $20 daily, must be used on fruits and vegetables.
Mrs. Doane said that the money will help alleviate the financial pressures of going local. Often, the belief is that local food is more expensive. The program hopes to rid consumers of that worry.
On Friday at the Canton Farmers’ Market, Sherry L. Long, the facility’s market manager, expounded on her hopes for the program as well as the virtues of local produce.
“People come here know they can buy food and help their neighbor. They know the quality. They know it’s healthy,” she said.
The Canton Farmers’ Market, which started May 11, will be one of five local locations where SNAP users can spend their extra cash. Huddled around coolers filled with his locally grown meat, Jeff D. Shippee, who owns Pleasant Valley Farm with his wife, appreciates the interest in local economics.
“If you don’t buy local, money goes to big corporate offices and doesn’t get spent in the local community,” he said.
On a collapsible white table parallel to the coolers sits a thick packet Mr. Shippee had received from Betsy Hodge, livestock educator at Cornell Cooperative Extension, which extols the virtues of local farms. Mr. Shippee presents it to possible clients.
In front her customers, Phyllis E. Brock spins her yarn using a worn, wood spinning wheel. As she wobbles her feet on the wooden pad, she frequently informs customers of her yarn-making process: soak it in a tub of water for a week, card the wool until fluffy and smooth, and then straighten it into yarn.
For Mrs. Brock, the new incentive will do little, she believes. Another project, which grants $20 to senior citizens, is more beneficial.
“I use it myself. I use my garden, but every bit helps,” she said with a wink and a chuckle.