Just Harvest's new Fresh Access program that allows people to shop at some Pittsburgh farmers markets using their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits as well as debit/credit cards is a growing success.
The service expanded last week to two more Citiparks farmers markets - Tuesdays in South Side and Thursdays in Bloomfield - and this week is available at the Wednesday Carrick market and Thursday Beechview market.
Back in May, the service became available at the Monday East Liberty and Friday North Side markets, having debuted at the Saturday Farmers@Firehouse market in the Strip District.
Just Harvest used grants to acquire readers that can accept SNAP benefits via electronic benefits transfer, or EBT. The same readers can accept debit and credit cards.
Customers actually buy wooden Fresh Access tokens, in 50-cent denominations for food-stamp customers and $1 ones for debit- and credit-card customers.
The service is free for SNAP customers; others are asked to donate $1.
Just Harvest's Emily Cleath said that as of last week, Fresh Access sales just at the East Liberty and North Side markets were almost $12,000, "so that's money going into farmers' pockets that otherwise wouldn't be there." About 40 percent of that total was SNAP benefits. She said about 70 percent of all shoppers using the service were spending their tokens with produce vendors.
Bob Batz Jr.: email@example.com and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.