EAST LANSING, MICH – Today’s Farmers Market at the Capitol, held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the East Lawn of the Capitol Building in Lansing, put the spotlight on local agriculture and food businesses, as well as food assistance programs that work to make sure that food is available to all Michigan families.
More than 70 vendors from Holland to Bad Axe to Sault Ste. Marie, gathered to highlight Michigan’s agrifood industry, selling a huge diversity of products, including seasonal fruits and vegetables, cut flowers and potted plants, spices and herbs, honey, maple syrup, baked goods, meat and fish, cheese, nuts, soap and much more. Every vendor selling eligible food items also accepted food assistance benefits, helping to bridge the gap between low-income families and local food access.
“Michigan ranks fourth in the country for the number of farmers markets with more than 300 operating in Michigan this year,” said Dru Montri, director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA), who hosts the Farmers Markets at the Capitol. “Of those markets, 103 are currently accepting Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) Bridge Cards, up from only three markets who accepted these benefits in 2006, so that customers in their communities have access to the fresh, healthy foods they offer.”
This year’s Farmers Markets at the Capitol also accepted SNAP Bridge Cards, along with Double Up Food Bucks, WIC Project FRESH and Market FRESH, thanks to a partnership with the Allen Street Farmers Market in Lansing. All of these programs help put more fresh foods, especially fruits and vegetables, onto the plates of low-income families.
“Michigan is a leader in the nation, especially in the Midwest, in SNAP usage at farmers markets,” said Amanda Shreve, who manages MIFMA’s Food Assistance Partnership. “Bridge Card clients spent nearly $900,000 of their benefits at farmers markets in 2011, and that number is growing every year.” According to the USDA, Michigan ranks third in the number of authorized SNAP retailers in the country and fourth in the number of dollars redeemed at farmers markets.
In addition to the market offering food assistance benefits, the Food Bank Council of Michigan also kicked off its 2012 Michigan Harvest Gathering at the farmers market, which runs from September 13 to October 15 to raise food and funds for Michigan’s hunger relief agencies. Shoppers and vendors alike had the opportunity to donate food at the market to this effort.
This is the seventh year that a farmers market has been held on the Capitol lawn. This market was hosted by MIFMA, in partnership with Michigan Food and Farming Systems (MIFFS) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Sponsors for the event were Dr. Paul Thompson, W.K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, Auto-Owners Insurance, the Food Bank Council of Michigan, Lansing State Journal, Michigan State University (MSU) Federal Credit Union, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, GreenStone Farm Credit Services, USDA Rural Development, MSU Product Center, Fair Food Network, Advanced Insurance Markets and Lansing Community College.
To find a full list of farmers markets in Michigan, including those that accept food assistance benefits, visit the MIFMA Web site at www.mifma.org and click “Find a Farmers Market”.
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