Federal Decision on Farmers Markets Could Put Fresh Food at Risk for Poor

Jake Neher/WDET

Winona Bynum, executive director of the Detroit Food Policy Council

Many farmers markets could soon lose their ability to accept payment from the supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP) — more commonly known as “food stamps.”

SNAP benefits have been used at Michigan farmers markets to make fresh produce, meat, and baked goods — healthy food — available to low-income people and families so they have options other than party stores or other places that sell processed food.

But the USDA cancelled its contract with the company that provides the software many farm markets use to accept SNAP payments, and the new company has yet to create replacement software.


That leaves farm markets in a bind and threatens access to fresh food for many Americans.

Dan Carmody, president of the Eastern Market Corporation, joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to speak about the outlook for farmers markets in Metro Detroit.

According to Carmody, Eastern Market won’t be affected by the cancellation of SNAP because the market has “used a different system from the get-go.”

Although Eastern Market won’t be directly impacted by the software change, Carmody says that in general, “SNAP helped reduce the price of fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets along with a number of other alternative currencies.”

If we’re not getting enough fresh food, we’re not taking advantage of the nutrition that nature provides,” he says.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson also speaks with Winona Bynum, the executive director of the Detroit Food Policy Council, about food access and the role of feeding oneself and one’s family in chronic poverty.

Bynum says many people in poverty are faced with “impossible decisions” when it comes to paying for basic needs such as water, housing, and food.

Bynum cites a report published last year by the Detroit Food Policy Council and the Detroit Health Department.

One of the metrics that came out was that 40-percent of households in Detroit rely on SNAP benefits,” she says.

According to Bynum, increasing people’s access to SNAP would be ideal, “but right now it’s under threat to be cut.”

Click on the audio player above for the full conversation. 

Image credit: Michael Ference

About the Author

Detroit Today

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