Farmers Market organizers looking at SNAP benefits

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – A new booth at the Historic Lafayette Farmers Market this year is not selling anything. But it’s giving to people, so they can go buy from other vendors.

Tippecanoe County’s Women, Infant and Children Clinic or WIC is writing Farmers Market checks at the market to those receiving WIC supplemental nutrition assistance.

“We go ahead and get them setup with the checks and explain to them how to use them,” WIC student intern Madison Gutwein said. “It’s pretty simple.”

This is not the first year vendors have accepted WIC checks, but the first year where they are being written at the market. Greater Lafayette Commerce program director Sarah Yelich said about 10 percent of the vendors accept the WIC checks.

Yelich said organizers are working to allow more nutrition assistance to be accepted at the market. Right now, they are working on an application so payments from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can be accepted.

“WIC and SNAP programs are very similar, but they are also very different,” Yelich said. “It’s a different application process. It’s something we are really interested in, and it’s something I’m really optimistic about getting up and running.”

Yelich said there is no timeline for when SNAP benefits may be accepted, but she hopes by the 2015 Farmers Market season. She said different groups have been working on the logistics for a while.

“Folks at United Way are interested, our office is interested,” Yelich said. “So, we finally had the opportunity to get everyone together around the same table and really figure out how we can make this work.”

Yelich said above all she hopes accepting different benefits can make a social impact.

“It’s important to me personally, and I think it’s important to our whole organization to have access to healthy foods for everyone in our community,” Yelich said.

The Farmers Market will run until October.

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