Connecting people with SNAP benefits to fresh, affordable food
Through the Market Token program, wooden tokens are used as market currency, making it possible for customers with SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food-stamp benefits to get fresh, healthy, affordable foods at the Market. Customers stop at the white Market Token Center behind the Market Office building to swipe their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and purchase $1 and $5 tokens that function as cash and are accepted by dozens of Market vendors. Tokens are available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Saturdays from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Might you qualify for SNAP? The income guidelines have changed! Click here for more information
See a USA Today article about the program
Just how successful is our Market Token program? In 2016, $777,000 in SNAP benefits were redeemed at the Market, making this program (again) the most successful of its kind in the country. The Rochester Public Market alone redeemed an amazing 23% of all SNAP benefits transacted at all 395 participating farmers markets across New York State in 2016, and a remarkable 3.3% of all SNAP benefits transacted at all 6,500 participating farmers markets nationwide. See below for more phenomenal figures and facts about our program!
Enthusiastic vendors are key to the program’s success. They explain the token system to new customers, and direct them to the Market office. Currently, 120 vendors accept the tokens.
Managed by the Friends of the Rochester Public Market, the Market Token Program allows food stamp recipients to easily obtain affordable, farm fresh foods at farmers markets, which are an essential, highly economical alternative to convenience and grocery stores. The tokens can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, dairy products, baked goods, honey and spices, processed foods, and even seeds and plants that produce foods.
When people have ready access to affordable, healthy foods they are more likely to make healthy food choices. As a result of the Market Token Program, 90% of participants report eating healthier. They also report purchasing more fresh fruit for their children. Because they can stretch their food dollars further, Market Token Program participants buy more and better quality foods, especially fresh produce.
Market Token Program Superlatives
This program's success and performance may seem unbelievable, but it's all true. The Market Token Program for SNAP recipients at the Rochester Public Market accomplished the following in 2016:
- More SNAP benefit redemptions than the all the combined participating farmers markets in 43 of the 50 states, including Washington, New Jersey, Ohio, Wisconsin, Georgia, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina
- More SNAP benefit redemptions than all of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee’s 600 participating farmers markets combined; and as much as all of Pennsylvania’s 194 participating markets combined
- Twice as many SNAP benefit redemptions on May 7, 2016 alone ($31,145) as all of Nevada’s 21 participating farmers markets combined in all of that year
- Exceeded all other markets’ results even though SNAP redemptions overall at farmers markets across the U.S. grew by an astonishing 610% between 2008 and 2015.
The Friends of the Market also welcome volunteers helping with the Market Token Program! If interested, call Margaret O'Neill at the Friends office at 585-325-5058 or email her.
Information and Contact
For more information on this sensational program, or to request materials and/or a presentation, contact Margaret O’Neill at the Friends office at 585-325-5058; email Margaret; or call the Market office at 585-428-6907.