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Shopping At Farmer’s Markets with Food Stamps

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

An article on the NY Daily News caught my eye today about young adults without kids using their food stamps at local farmer’s markets to buy farm fresh veggies, local honey, baked goods, and wild caught rabbit meat and salmon. Surprisingly the article did not insinuate that somehow accepting food stamps makes you only deserving of Twinkies and Ramen noodles like I thought it would… of course the comments are a different story.

I liked this article because I think allowing people to use their food stamps at Farmer’s markets is a stellar idea. People who are struggling to make ends meet deserve healthy food too. There is no reason why they must be relegated to junk food if they actually WANT to eat healthier. This bit for example might get some people’s hair up:

Then there are food stamp users like Gerry Mak, 31, who had very little in terms of a job besides a meager part-time blogging job when he moved to Baltimore last year.

After applying for food stamps and qualifying for $200 a month, he recently prepared roasted rabbit with butter, tarragon and sweet potatoes.

“I’m sort of a foodie, and I’m not going to do the ‘living off ramen’ thing,” Mak said, according to “I used to think that you could only get processed food and government cheese on food stamps, but it’s great that you can get anything.”

Well, it is unfortunate that many people in this country feel they cannot afford to eat this way I don’t begrudge the man a good meal because he is using tax payer dollars to get by. Why? Well, what kind of person would I be if I said that the idea of this guy existing on Twinkies and soda makes me “feel better” somehow? Also, why on earth would we want tax payer dollars to go to supporting big food companies that are already heavily subsidized if there is another way. That money will go to supporting something… so I would prefer Joe the local farmer to ConAgra or Monsanto any day of the week.

It would be a big boon to local economies if food stamp money was going towards local food and farmers. As I mentioned, we already subsidize junk food in the US to make it artificially cheap, which I think is monumentally unfair to small food producers. Giving food stamp users the option to spend money with their neighbors is a step in a better direction.. as indicated by this quote:

Four years ago, just three Greenmarkets took food stamps and total sales were $1,000. Last summer, 28 Greenmarkets accepted food stamps, and sales were more than $200,000.

That is $200,000 being put in the pockets of the people instead of corporate agribusiness!

Would we see a food stamps recipient eating healthier, albeit more expensive, foods and be thinking “Not on my dime!”? Or would we see them load up on Ramen noodles and Velveeta cheese and think of what those dollars are actually supporting and think, “Not on my dime!”? Personally I would like to see all farmer’s markets be able to accept food stamps and then maybe we would see a huge boost to local economies and local food availability and perhaps prices would come down. People deserve healthy food not processed garbage and our local farmers should be the ones being supported by our tax dollars, not the mega corporations slowly poisoning us.

What do think about this issue? Care to share your 2 cents?

  • Amy

    I’ve always thought being able to use food stamps or WIC coupons at the Farmer’s Market is a wonderful idea. Everyone should have access to food that is good for them.

  • Kimberly

    Every Farmer’s Market I’ve been to accepts food stamps. That doesn’t include roadside stands – just formal farmer’s markets. Don’t tell me Texas is actually doing something smarter than the rest of the country. I’ll faint.

    I’m saving money now that I found a Farmer’s Market in Houston (Urban Harvest 3000 Richmond Saturdays 8 – 12) that has more than 2 -3 vendors. The food is more varied. Because it is fresher so it lasts longer. I think I’m eating less – because it tastes better and I savor it.

    • crissy


      • rosa

        im having the same problem. i cant seem to find any in houston that accept lonestar

  • When I lived in Brooklyn, I was on WIC and they gave me farmer’s market coupons/gift certificates/whatever – very cool!

  • Amber

    My local farmer’s market here in Upstate NY accepts food stamps when it is running. It really is a great idea. Why would we want to pay for the poor to eat food that is bad for them? It would end up costing tax payers more money in the long run in health related expenses.

  • I’ve never been on food stamps but i was on WIC when I first had my child, we aren’t anymore, but when we were we had vouchers for the farmers market. We would go every saturday and get local fruits and veggies with our WIC checks. I thought it was a great idea! I’m with you I would rather be using my tax dollars for local farmers than big businesses! Good read.

  • Anne

    I’m from Michigan, and have been using food stamps for the past few months. It has been a struggle. I recently became a single mother of four, and I have had to use food stamps as my only source of grocery money while I am trying to get into the workforce and start receiving some child support. i want to feed my babies the best food that i can, but unfortunately our local farmer’s markets and Amish markets (which sell Amish-raised meat and poultry, but are not owned by Amish) do not currently accept food stamps. I can get $40 in September through the WIC program, but who wants to wait until September to visit a farmer’s market? So until I am earning enough to buy our food with my own dollars, I’m stuck with local supermarkets. Hopefully someday that will change, for others, like me, who have had to alter their food choices because of financial struggles.

  • We have been on WIC for the last few years and always get farmer’s market coupons. We love it! I have also noticed the health food stores here do take food stamps too. i think these programs should encourage people to spend their “money” on better food. WIC has recently done some changes and we now get fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and veggies, but before the amount of juice they would give out was ridiculous and people think if that is what they are given, then that must be what their children should be eating/drinking. Of course they were always happy to hear that my children hardly drank any juice at all, at the same time they are giving me coupons fortons of juice- too many inconsistencies!

  • Sarah

    I am with you here, why should your income determine your health? Plus if you are on food stamps you can’t really pay for health care can you–a whole separate conversation. If someone needs assistance that shouldn’t mean that they are not allowed to eat healthfully, particularly people with children!

  • Jennifer Lachman

    The food stamps program is not only a welfare program, but it is also intended to help the department of agriculture.The program is to help people eat healthy fresh foods and some states wont allow you to purchase junk food like donuts or other treats with them.

  • Robyn

    Our Farmers’ Market started taking food-stamps and WIC last summer. I thought that was great!

    My son’s birthmother is on WIC. She told me that, until this year, she couldn’t get fresh fruits or vegetables with it. But she could get plenty of juice and peanut butter. But no bread, until now, either.

    How insane is that?

  • I’m thrilled that people can use food stamps at farmers markets.
    I also think it’s wonderful that some food banks do $5 dollar non-perishable bags for those of us who could get by with our food budgets, but not remain healthy (5 dollars buys you a random bag of non-perishables, so you can spend your merger food budget on fruits and veggies and non processed protein). Since I took a drastic pay cut and became the only sorce of income we have used this service a few times.

    Once you receive food stamps, it is up to you how you want to use them. If this man wants to buy salmon, by all means let him buy salmon (which I’m betting was on sale) because he’s going to pay for that by having to stretch his food budget elsewhere. I suspect the rest of his meals that week were not quite as expensive, if not the rest of the month – that doesn’t mean they weren’t tasty, healthy, well rounded meal, but salmon for one if on sale isn’t actually as expensive as it sounds!

    I agree that all farmers markets should accept stamps. This is the problem I see in many of the lives of people we minister too. They end up having to shop and high end grocery stores where the meat smells the moment you walk in the store…kids buying candy and guzzler drinks full of corn syrup. I am so frustrated with it all. So thankful many markets are changing what the acept. The hood needs to eat healthy too!!!
    great post!!!

  • Janet

    I had read somewhere that Farmer’s Markets were starting to accept food stamps. I am a huge advocate for buying fresh, local food, so I am completely in favor of this idea. I am not sure how this would work at all the local markets though. At my favorite one, the farmers still sell everything out of the back of their trucks.

    I could go on and on about this topic. :-) I will say this much. Healthy eating means less health issues. Less health issues means a reduction in the need for expensive medial treatment. Maybe if we all just ate a little better, healthcare would be so darn expensive.

  • Cindy

    Thank you for writing this article. The more people think about where there food comes from the better off we will be.

  • Lynn from


    I completely agree with you. I”m happy to say that our local farmers markets in DC run by FreshFarmMarkets, not only accept WIC coupons, but they DOUBLE them…so that people can get twice as much food for the money. It’s a great program, and one of the challenges is getting the word out about it.

  • i think its great that people can use their food stamps and WIC at the farmers market. I dont think we can in my area. or atleast from what i have heard we can’t but it would be nice. i would much prefer tax dollars go to local farmers than junk food.

  • Annette

    I think that it is awesome! It is nice to read this and see so many other people who agree. Many people where I am still don’t understand. I have 3 children who are on WIC and here we can actually get organic milk with our WIC checks. A woman in line was actually very rude and gave me a hard time last week for getting organic milk on WIC. To her it is a waste of taxpayer money but to me it means giving my children the best that I can.

  • Marietha

    Did you know that you purchase vegetable and fruit bearing seeds & plants with food stamps? You will need to find a grocery store or a “big box” store (that accepts food stamps) that sells the plants. You might get lucky and find organic seeds and plants. It’s a great idea for those that can accommodate even a small garden and just think how much one could save on real fresh tomatoes alone instead of those tasteless tomatoes in the grocery stores.

  • Terra

    I pray that more people will choose to use their food stamps to support local farmers and eat well. I would prefer my tax dollars go toward safe, healthy food over processed crap any day. It’s when people spend WIC and food stamps on “junk” food that I become angry and disgusted.

  • smilinggreenmom

    Absolutely agree! Everyone deserves healthy foods and I would definitely prefer that our local farmer’s benefit from this over the nasty processed foods manufacturers.

  • Dex

    I would really appreciate anyone’s opinion on food stamps. I have become very cynical as I have learned more and more about the Michigan welfare system due to a renter of mine. She is 19, and now has 2 children (two different “baby daddies”, as she calls them. I believe both are drug dealers, who travel up from Detroit a few times a month.. She receives $500+ in food stamps (she sells half for cash–I reported her–and her friends, who do the same thing– and they do absolutely nothing about it); $300+ in cash assistance; HUD pays for her apartment (except for $118); they bought her a $1200 car, and then she quit her job. She feels that as long as she continues to have babies, she can live for free, forever–or at least until she can’t have any more children. She parties like a rock star, and it makes me sick. She saw an episode of Judge Judy, where a 38 year old, single mother of 6, had never worked in her entire life, and I believe this is her role model. What the heck is going on with this system? She even receives an earn income check for $2500 or so, even though she only worked a few months in her entire life. In my town, is seems as there are 20+ girls doing the exact same thing. I believe they average $1000 per month in benefits, and will never pay in a single cent. It appears as if this scam has been going on for years, and that the info passes from deadbeat mom to deadbeat mom.

    • Dex there will always be people who abuse the system. There are those who do not though. This post was geared towards those people who truly do need the assistance and want to use their food stamps for healthy food.

      • Dex

        Thanks for the reply. Why can’t something be done about the people who always abuse the system? It’s like no one cares; it’s okay to live off of the system, as long as you are a single mom with 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 (and so on….to infinity) kids. Too bad there can’t be a law to ban these baby-factories from having more children; children who will probably have a poor life; and who will repeat the process–9-fold. Responsible people have 1,2,3 kids–what they can afford, and those kids usually grow up to be responsible and WORKING. Welfare moms have an exponential number of kids, who grow up to live off of the system, just like mom. In just 2 generations, you will have 36, 49, 64, 81 more living off of the system. The worst part: they know what they are doing and they laugh about it. They absolutely LOVE that they are living for free, off of everyone who works. It’s a game.

  • JRedmerski

    I’m a YA and Urban Fantasy writer and an advocate for helping welfare recipients get out of ‘The System’. I run a site and community exposing the dirty little secrets of HUD, the Department of Human Services and Child Support Enforcement and explain the many reasons why it’s next to impossible fore welfare recipients to get out. How do I know these things? I AM a recipient.

    I really like this topic and am glad your view on the issue is a positive one. I find it surprising and awful that anyone would think people on food stamps shouldn’t be entitled to healthy food. It’s just sad.

  • Good Girl Gone Green

    When we were living in Wichita, KS the local farmers market accepted food stamps and I think it is great!!! :) :) Everyone should be entitled t good and healthy food.

  • Naturallivingshow

    I think this is great to buy good wholesome food with food stamps! If
    anything people with public paid food assistance should not be able to
    buy expensive non nutritive junk food like Doritos… Commodities
    only….no packaged foods, just whole foods such as beans, rice, cheese,
    fresh fruits and veggies, milk, eggs, flour, etc…