Produce at the Muskegon farmers market - 2012
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - All last week in WZZM 13's Food for Families coverage, we showed efforts to create better access to fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families. Now USDA Food and Nutrition Service Under Secretary Kevin Concannon is in Grand Rapids to highlight West Michigan's progress.
Concannon told WZZM that "Michigan is the best in the Midwest," in helping SNAP and WIC recipients access what they need at local farmers markets. His efforts this year have included creating grants to give more farmers markets wireless EBT and SNAP card scanners.
Just last month, the Fulton Street Farmers Market received the handheld devices, which are iPhones with a scanner attached. EBT and SNAP participants swipe their benefits cards at farmers markets instead of just grocery stores.
Concannon said 200 more will be distributed at markets across Michigan, and 4,000 across the country this summer. The USDA estimates there are more than 200 markets in Michigan not currently authorized to accept SNAP.
"If we could get more Americans eating the kind of food that's sold right here, we'd solve some of our health care problems, we'd feel bettter about ourselves, and we'd be putting money back into the local economy," he said.
Concannon is at the Fulton Street Farmers Market Wednesday morning to praise Michigan for having the most SNAP-authorized farmers markets and highest SNAP dollars spent at markets of the six midwest region states.
He will be joined by representatives from the Michigan Department of Human Services, Michigan Department of Community Health, and the State Farmers Market Association.