Foundations fund coupons

RICHMOND-For low income Vermonters, $1 is now worth $2, at least at some Vermont farmers' markets. Customers enrolled in the 3SquaresVT program (popularly known as food stamps) can now double their benefits at 5 pilot farmers' markets across the state, thanks to a program of NOFA Vermont.

The program, known as the Harvest Health Coupon Program, works like this: for every $2 a customer accesses with a 3SquaresVT electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card, they will receive a $2 Harvest Health Coupon, up to $10 per week. Coupons will be distributed through October, or until funding runs out, at the Brattleboro Area Farmers' Market, Bellows Falls Farmers' Market, Capital City Farmers' Market, Old North End Farmers' Market, and Winooski Farmers' Market.

"With the Harvest Health Coupon Project, these five Vermont farmers' markets are joining markets in Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington D.C., and California in piloting a coupon incentive project to encourage low-income Americans to shop at farmers' markets. This program allows more low income Vermonters to purchase farm-fresh, nutritious food at farmers' markets" said Jean Hamilton, project coordinator with NOFA Vermont.

Over $8 million of 3squaresVT benefits are allocated to participating Vermonters each month. 16 farmers' markets in Vermont now accept 3SquaresVT EBT card and debit card transactions.

The project is funded by the Ben and Jerry's Foundation and the Wholesome Wave Foundation.

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