Bloomington Health Foundation Grant Triples Value Of Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Vouchers

(BLOOMINGTON) – The Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market is furthering its mission to support access to nutrition for vulnerable populations by using a grant from the Bloomington Health Foundation to triple Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program benefits for low-income seniors and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants.

The Bloomington Health Foundation in January awarded a grant for $79,976 to the Bloomington Parks Foundation to be used for tripling these supplemental nutrition programs at the Farmers’ Market over the next two years. 

Eligible WIC participants are issued Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers that can be used at the Market for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. Because of this grant from the Bloomington Health Foundation, WIC clients will be provided a coupon that triples the value of their FMNP benefits. That coupon can be exchanged at the Farmers’ Market for “Market Bucks”, which can be used like cash at the Market to buy food from participating vendors. 

The grant also provides for the tripling of Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program vouchers, offered through the Area 10 Agency on Aging.

According to the Bloomington Health Foundation, the most recent Monroe County Health Department Community Health Needs Assessment identifies chronic disease management as one of our community’s most pressing health needs.

Jon Barada, President and CEO of the Bloomington Health Foundation, said, “Increasing access to healthy foods, in partnership with the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market, is an evidence-based way to address chronic diseases like diabetes and is another way the Bloomington Health Foundation can help the people of Bloomington and surrounding communities lead healthier lives.”

The Bloomington Parks Foundation is also continuing its support of the Double Market Bucks program by increasing the doubling amount of SNAP benefits at the Market from $18 to $27 per Market day for the remainder of the 2020 season.

SNAP participants may, during both the Saturday and Tuesday Farmers’ Markets, use their EBT cards to purchase Market Bucks in $3 increments. Those benefits will be doubled up to $27, making $27 in SNAP benefits worth $54 for purchasing healthy food at the Market. In 2019 this program was utilized by 158 households with a total benefit to SNAP recipients of $11,500.

The Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market is open for both online and on-site sales. The Farmers’ Market is held on Saturdays at Showers Common, 401 N. Morton St., from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Free, two-hour parking is available on Saturdays at metered spaces on the streets surrounding the Farmers’ Market. Free parking is also available in Showers Red Permit spaces, and in the “IU-EMS” lot across Morton Street from City Hall. Access to the Saturday Market via Bloomington Transit is #2 West 11th St. via Showers Complex.

The city’s new Switchyard Park will host the Tuesday Market this summer. The Tuesday Market is held from 4 until 8 p.m. on the north side of the Pavilion at 1601 S. Rogers St. The first half-hour, from 4-4:30 p.m., is reserved for people who are at a higher risk for contracting or fighting off an illness. Tuesday Market at Switchyard Park via Bloomington Transit is #2 South Rogers/Countryview.

The Farmers’ Market on both Saturday and Tuesday continues to operate along CDC guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19 by maintaining physical distancing, requiring all vendors to wear face coverings and gloves, and strongly recommending the use of face masks by Market shoppers. 

To preclude crowding, the Market will not offer live entertainment, food or beverages that are intended to be consumed on site, or representation by community organizations at Information Alley, until further notice.