Uneven SNAP support across Long Island
There are 110 farmers markets on the geographical Long Island (Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau County and Suffolk County), 63 of those 69 farmers markets in Brooklyn and Queens support the SNAP/EBT program, while 22 of the 41 markets in Nassau and Suffolk county support the benefit program. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are government aid programs that provide nutritional assistance to low-income individuals and families. SNAP is distributed on EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card.
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20 of those 63 markets in Queens and Brooklyn are ran by GrowNYC, a non-profit program that provides their Green Market service. The Green Market service is ran by staff member Chelsea Whittaker. Overall, GrowNYC and Whittaker are at the head of 51 Green Markets in the 5 boroughs of New York City, which support the benefit programs. The Long Island Grower’s Market is in charge of 9 of the 21 markets that do not support the SNAP/EBT program.
According to a Newsday report in 2012, the number of SNAP requests on Long Island have doubled since 2008, Nassau and Suffolk county jumping to 37,500 and 53,400 caseloads respectively. There are 150,000 to 160,000 residents on Long Island that are on the assistance program as of 2014 according to a Long Island Report article. The famers markets on Long Island that don’t support the SNAP/EBT program do have a marketplace that they can reach if they would support the benefits.
Farmers markets provide locally grown food devoid of GMO’s and antibiotics that cause health concerns. The SNAP/EBT benefits provide cash to low and non-income people who are more susceptible to eating processed and unhealthy foods.