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West End Market joins food aid program

Some shoppers have been deterred from buying locally-grown produce at farmers markets because of difficulty using government food assistance programs at the market.


Some shoppers have been deterred from buying locally-grown produce at farmers markets because of difficulty using government food assistance programs at the market.

That situation is changing as farmers’ markets throughout the country are starting to accept food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. The West End Market, now in its second year at Church Street and Dodge Avenue in Evanston, is one of those markets.

Thanks to its sponsor, the Evanston Community Development Corporation, the market now accepts the Illinois Link Card, an electronic card used to process food and cash assistance benefits authorized under several federal and state programs. The Market also accepts both Senior Discount and WIC coupons.

“This is a real boon to the community,” says Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward. “This is the first step in educating people about the benefits of fresh produce and making it a large part of their daily food intake.“

The West End Market operates from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays through Oct. 31.

A recent study in the American Journal of Public Health showed that women with low incomes who received funds to shop at farmers’ markets ate three more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

“It’s not clear why mothers (in the study) visiting a farmers’ market wound up buying more vegetables than grocery store shoppers,” a report on the study in the New York Times noted, “but some women told the researchers that the produce sold at markets seemed to be fresher and of higher quality than supermarket offerings.

“Many shoppers also said they enjoyed the pleasant community experience and the chance to interact directly with growers the authors noted.

Holmes says she’s excited about both those findings, because “that’s exactly what we offer at the West End Market: a place to shop, mingle, see your neighbors and get out on a Saturday.”

In addition to produce, West End Market shoppers can buy apple cider; baked goods from local churches and a Chicago-based bakery; body-care products; hand-crafted purses, linens and decorative items; and green household products.” The Market also will be featuring live music by local performers.

As well as providing providing goods, the West End Market works to create community partnerships and boost the economic vitality of the neighborhood.

More information on the West End Market is available online or by calling 847-756-0159. Market organizers are also seeking new crafts vendors, non-profit bake sales and entertainers.

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