Supporting Local Farmers and Providing Nutritious Food

As I am a Member of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee and the Chair of the Subcommittee on Hunger, Nutrition and Family Farms, I know that by supporting Pennsylvania farmers we can also provide nutritious, fresh food for Pennsylvania’s growing children and for all of our residents. With over 1.2 million citizens in Pennsylvania at risk for hunger, we need to ensure this food is available to them.

Agriculture 1Low-income Pennsylvanians enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, will soon have greater access to fresh, locally grown produce at farmers market stands across Pennsylvania, while supporting local farmers at the same time. SNAP, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service, puts healthy food on the tables of more than 40 million Americans each month. Pennsylvania's agriculture department facilitates the national program, in addition to several other food programs, through the Bureau of Food Distribution. Pennsylvanians can apply for SNAP benefits using the online application COMPASS, or by filing an application at a local county assistance office.

Farmers markets or farm stands can apply for one of the 145 wireless machines that are being made available with a federal grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Machines will be available on a first come-first served basis. The grant funding is made possible by the Farmers Market Promotion Program, which was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Applications are available at http://agriculture.state.pa.us by searching "EBT Wireless Terminal Application" or from Heidi Crager at 717-787-4956. The machines can also be used for credit card purchases, and training will be offered by the company providing the devices. Card-readers will be distributed until gone. Completed applications can be sent to the Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Food Distribution, 2301 N. Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110.