LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- It's been a busy but successful summer for the Lafayette Farmers Market so far and organizers believe it's a positive result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Farmers Market organizers say people benefiting from the federal food assistance Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) have really brought an increase in shopping this year. That's because the federal government opened up its pool of people eligible for those SNAP benefits.
About five years ago, Lafayette Farmers Market leaders created a program that allows SNAP users to exchange those benefits for farmer's market tokens. Each ticket equates to a dollar in spending money. The goal in this was to expand access to nutritional foods to more communities.
And with the pandemic opening up more eligibility for more people in need, Market Manager Rebecca jones is finding it's creating a positive balance between consumers and vendors.
"We're really being able to serve a lot of families within the community, making that an inclusive space for everyone," said Jones. "It also gives way for other businesses to showcase themselves and volunteer in that booth as well."
She said this year has brought a major increase in token users, so much so that they're experiencing a bit of a shortage in tokens right now.
"We do invite all the community members who have used SNAP tokens in the past years to come back and use their tokens at the market to get those back into recirculation," said Jones. "They never expire, you can continue to use them on any SNAP-eligible item."
She said the market had to put a $40 cap on how many tokens they can give out per person. Once the 40 tokens are spent, then those users can come back and exchange more SNAP benefits for tokens.
Jones said they're hoping to get more tokens in circulation this summer. Right now, they're waiting for their order of more tokens to come in.