SNAP benefits now accepted at farmers market

MILFORD — About halfway through its 21st year, the Riverwalk Farmers Market has found something new to tap into: food stamp benefits.

Walter Hepford of the market said organizers were excited to allow food stamp, or SNAP, benefits at the market, but doing so came with some trepidation.

“We hesitated to get involved in the clerical things. But we’ve gotten four or five people who have said, ‘Why don’t you offer this?’ They wanted to use their benefits here because it’s local food. So, we’re going to give it a try,” Mr. Hepford said.

Those interested in purchasing food items from the market in Milford using food stamp benefits can go to the farmer’s market booth to purchase “wooden tokens” with their EBT card. Tokens can then be taken to participating vendors.

“God bless him, our treasure. He’s going to have some more work to do,” Mr. Hepford joked.

Mule Run Meats is one of a handful of vendors who have chosen to participate in the program so far.

“I’ve got a real good product. It’s a shame that it’s a disadvantage for folks using the food stamp stuff that they don’t have access to this,” owner Kenny Blessing said.

With the farmer’s market handling the paperwork side of things, he said, “I just felt like it’s the right thing to do to endorse it.”

Mr. Blessing is a military veteran and lifelong farmer. He and his wife, Sherry, opened Mule Run Meats after the family farm broke up.

“For the last ten years, we’ve been slowly selling freezer beef to family and friends. Once we broke ground and the first stick went in here, it was game on. In my heart, I know I’ve done the right thing,” he said.

All of his products, he added proudly, come from Delaware with the exception of pork which comes from just over the Maryland border.

He hopes to gain more customers by allowing those who use food stamps to purchase food with the benefits right at his stand found every week at the Riverwalk Farmers Market.

“For what I’m offering with a broad range of meat products, the chicken, the pork, the turkey products, some of the beef stuff… where are you going to get it? It’s just not available without being processed or preserved. Everyone deserves an opportunity to eat what they feel is best for their family,” he said.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at mc@newszap.com

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