Just Harvest has expanded its Fresh Access program to all seven Pittsburgh Citiparks farmers’ markets.
The program facilitates the use of SNAP benefits/food stamps as well as credit and debit cards at city farmers markets.
This summer marks the first time food stamps can be used at Pittsburgh Citiparks farmers’ markets. In May, Just Harvest launched Fresh Access at the Citiparks farmers’ markets in East Liberty and North Side farmers’ markets. By the end of July the program had reached $10,000 in sales.
By mid-August total sales equaled nearly $12,000. “That’s money going into farmers’ pockets that otherwise wouldn’t be there,” said Emily Schmidlapp, JustHarvest’s Fresh Access coordinator. Thus far, food stamp sales have reached $4,125, which is close to 40 percent of the total.
SNAP/food stamps recipients can swipe their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards and receive tokens that are accepted by many of the vendors and can be used to purchase food. Those who use the token kiosk for credit and debit card purchases will be asked to contribute $1 per transaction.
Overwhelmingly, shoppers are spending their money on fresh, local produce. Both EBT and credit/debit shoppers spend close to 70 percent of their tokens with produce vendors. Vendors also offer baked goods, meat and dairy products.
Beginning this week, Fresh Access will be at the South Side and Bloomfield Citiparks farmers’ markets:
The South Side farmers’ market is open Tuesdays from 3:30 - 7:30 p.m. at 18th and E. Carson streets.
The Bloomfield farmers’ market runs on Thursdays from 3:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the St. Maria Goretti School parking lot on Cedarville Street and Friendship Avenue.
Starting the week of the August 19, Fresh Access will be at the Carrick and Beechview Citiparks farmers’ markets.
The Beechview farmers market runs on Thursdays from 3:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the St. Catherine of Siena parking lot on Broadway Avenue and Belasco Street - this market is only open through September 12
Just Harvest has chosen not to offer Fresh Access at the downtown farmers market at the city council building on Fridays as this market provides mostly prepared foods, not fresh produce.