Fairgrounds Farmer’s Market Now Accepting EBT Cards
By Judie Holcomb-Pack
Healthy eating just got easier for many low-income families in Forsyth County.
Vendors at the Farmer’s Market at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds are now accepting EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards by way of tokens that SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) participants can use to purchase fresh vegetables, meats, and other food products.
According to research, three out of five seniors qualify for SNAP benefits, but don’t apply for the benefits, which average $108 per month. For many seniors, purchasing fresh, healthy vegetables is not an option due to the cost or lack of transportation to grocery stores.
The Fairgrounds Farmers Market hopes to change that. They began accepting EBT cards in a new program where cash can be withdrawn from the card and exchanged into tokens that are accepted by vendors at the Farmers Market.
The procedure is simple. Customers come to the market office and use their card to withdraw an amount from their EBT card that they anticipate using to purchase produce or other food products from vendors. The market then gives them tokens valued at $1 each in exchange for their money. The customer then pays for purchases from vendors with the tokens and at the end of the day, the vendors return the tokens to the market office, where they submit a request for payment in the amount of the tokens they received.
All vendors at the Dixie Classic Farmer’s Market must accept the tokens; however, they can only be used to purchase foods that will be taken home or eaten off site. Produce, meat, bread, bakery goods, cereal, dairy, jams, jellies, pickles, honey, plants and seeds that produce edible food such as tomato plants, and ground coffee in bags can all be purchased using the tokens. Items such as pastries or cups of coffee that customers consume on site cannot be purchased with tokens.
Vendors cannot give change back from tokens, so if a customer purchases $4.50 worth of product and uses five tokens ($5 in value), they will not receive 50 cents back. However, if they purchase $4.50 worth of product and use four tokens ($4) plus $1 cash, the vendor can give 50 cents back, which would come from the cash presented, not the token.
Cobblestones Market, which is open on Saturdays at Old Salem, also accepts EBT cards, but their tokens are a different color. Customers cannot use tokens from the Fairgrounds Farmers Market at Cobblestones or vice versa. If customers do not use all their tokens in one visit, they can continue to use them on future visits or return the tokens at the market office to have the money returned to their EBT card.
Vendors were positive about not only how this program will help their business, but how it will provide an opportunity for low-income people to eat fresh, healthy food. Sharon Hill of Hill Family Farm in Germanton commented, “I feel positive because I want to eat healthy food and support local farmers and I like giving this option to make healthy choices to others.” Hill Family Farm sells hot peppers, jams, wheat bread and their signature habanero strawberry jam at the Farmer’s Market.
The Farmers Market at the Dixie Classic Fair grounds is open every Saturday from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Entrance is through the parking area off 27th street. Follow them on Facebook at WS Fairgrounds Farmers Market.
Farmer’s Market Recipes
Last year Nikki Miller-Ka partnered with the Fairgrounds Farmers Market to stage live cooking demonstrations where she prepared meals that could feed a family of four for no more than $20 using ingredients she bought at the market that day. The recipes were created on site with little to no prior planning using items purchased from market vendors and a limited amount of pantry staples that people would most often have on hand. She kindly shared these two recipes.
1/4 cup light olive oil
1/4 cup elephant garlic, minced
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup bell peppers, diced
1-1/2 cups tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup green tomatoes, diced
2 cups eggplant, diced
1/2 cup zucchini, diced
1/2 cup squash, diced
1 Tbs Italian seasoning, dried
1/2 cup white wine (I used pinot grigio)
8-10 large basil leaves, fresh
salt & pepper, to taste
Heat two large skillets over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to each pan. Cook the onions and garlic, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly wilted, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and bell peppers to one pan and the eggplant, zucchini and squash to the other. Season both pans with salt and pepper and add Italian seasoning. Stir occasionally and let the water from the vegetables release. Cook for about 12-15 minutes.
The vegetables will begin to caramelize and become fragrant. Combine both pans into one. Deglaze both pans with white wine and add the pan sauce into the pan with all of the vegetables. Add the fresh basil and additional salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for 5 minutes more and stir well to blend. Serve either hot or at room temperature.
Custard Sauce with Fresh Blueberries Makes 2 cups
1-1/2 cups milk or cream
3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
2 Tbs flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint blueberries
Optional: 1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbs butter
fresh mint or basil, for garnish
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. While the milk is heating, whisk the yolks, sugar and flour in a medium non-reactive mixing bowl.
Temper the eggs with the heated milk by slowly adding half of the hot milk slowly into the egg mixture to bring the eggs to the same temperature as the milk. Next, slowly incorporate all of the egg mixture into the saucepan and turn heat to low.
Use a high heat spatula to constantly stir the custard to thicken it. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let the mixture boil or it will curdle and you will have scrambled eggs.
After the custard has thickened, take it off heat and if using, add the vanilla and butter. Place a buttered piece of wax paper on top of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Serve over fresh blueberries and garnish with fresh mint.
Nikki Miller-Ka is an award-winning private chef who writes and talks about her life as a food writer, culinarian, podcast host, and food tour guide. She is a classically French-trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami. For more information, visit www.niksnacksonline.com.