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DCFS, USDA Partner to Increase Healthy Food Choices for SNAP Participants

08.21.12 - The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide access to healthy food choices at Louisiana Farmer's Markets for Louisiana residents currently participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

"Farmer's markets provide a great local opportunity to get fresh fruit and vegetables. By helping to provide farmer's markets the tools to participate as SNAP retailers, those fruits and vegetables will be more readily available to our families," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "Access to healthy, fresh food is a key factor in good nutrition and good nutrition leads to better outcomes for children. With Louisiana's high obesity rate, we want to make healthy food options more accessible to families participating in SNAP."

The partnership with the USDA will provide grants to reimburse farmer's markets for the purchase of a wireless point-of-sale (POS) device used to process Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) transactions. With a POS device, a farmer's market will be able to accept SNAP benefits.

Five farmer's markets in the state already use POS equipment to accept SNAP benefits. These include three in New Orleans, the Crescent City Farmers Market, The Renaissance Project and the Sanakofa Farmers Market, along with the Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge and the Oberlin Farmers Market in Allen Parish. DCFS is offering the grant to additional farmers markets around the state that are not already participating.

DCFS sent a letter outlining the requirements of the grant to farmer's markets that expressed an interest in participating. In order to be considered, a market must have the ability to make reimbursement to farmers in exchange for scrip or tokens and also be authorized as a SNAP retailer by the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA. Grant agreements must be finalized with participating farmer's markets by September 30, 2012.

SNAP is a federally funded program administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, which sets eligibility requirements for participation and foods available for purchase.