Connecting people with food stamp benefits to fresh, affordable food
Through the Market Token program, wooden tokens are used as market currency, making it possible for customers with food-stamp benefits to get fresh, healthy foods at the Market. Customers stop at the Market office to swipe their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and purchase $1 and $5 tokens that function as cash.
Click the Market Token at the right to see a video about the program!
See a USA Today article about the program
Just how successful is our Market Token program? In 2013, customers purchased over a half-million dollars in tokens. That's 8,000 customers more than all of the other farmers markets across New York State combined, excluding New York City’s Green Markets. In fact, our total token sales exceed the total sales of many entire states!
Enthusiastic vendors are key to the program’s success. They explain the token system to new customers, and direct them to the Market office. Currently, 120 vendors accept the tokens.
Operated by the Friends of the Rochester Public Market, the Market Token Program allows food stamp recipients to easily obtain affordable, farm fresh foods at farmers markets, which are an essential, highly economical alternative to convenience and grocery stores. The tokens can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, dairy products, baked goods, honey and spices, processed foods, and even seeds and plants that produce foods.
When people have ready access to affordable, healthy foods they are more likely to make healthy food choices. As a result of the Market Token Program, 70% of participants report eating "a lot more" fruits and vegetables. They also report purchasing more fresh fruit for their children. Because they can stretch their food dollars further, Market Token Program participants buy more and better quality foods, especially fresh produce.
"Our goal is to make sure that people who receive food stamps know that they can use these benefits at the Rochester Public Market year-round," says Margaret O’Neill, Program Manager.
The Friends of the Market also welcome volunteers helping with the Market Token Program! If interested, call Margaret O'Neill at the Friends office at 585-325-5058 or email her.
Information and Contact
For more information on this sensational program, or to request materials and/or a presentation, contact Margaret O’Neill at the Friends office at 585-325-5058; email Margaret; or call the Market office at 585-428-6907.