Update on SNAP EBT Access at Partner Farmers Markets Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

Dear Wholesome Wave Family, Partners and Friends,

It has been a difficult week here on the East Coast. The effects of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt by millions. Our Wholesome Wave Bridgeport, CT, office just had power restored and is now finally open. While many of us are still picking up the pieces from Sandy’s aftermath, I wanted to take this opportunity to shine some light on an important issue affecting the very people Wholesome Wave works to empower.

Regarding access to critically needed food assistance in areas crippled by Hurricane Sandy; we’ve gathered reports from New Jersey, New York City, and Connecticut that people who depend on SNAP benefits are not able to use their EBT cards at grocery and corner stores that are still without power.

We want to let everyone know that Wholesome Wave partners, and farmers markets at large, are doing their part to make sure low-income consumers have access to fresh healthy food during this difficult time. All Wholesome Wave partner markets accept SNAP benefits and most accept other nutrition assistance benefits such as WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers. Many offer incentives that increase the value of their benefits when spent on locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Our New York partners, Grow NYC’s Greenmarket and Harvest Home, tell us that farmers are making it into New York City. Many of their markets are open for business. This is good news for many people living in nearby underserved communities. Nearly all New York City farmers markets have wireless EBT machines that are fully operational, providing EBT access while continuing to accept Health Bucks vouchers, which give customers $2 for every $5 spent at farmers markets.

Greenmarket reports that today (Friday November 2, 2012) all of their Queens and Bronx markets are open as usual. In Manhattan, the 97th Street Greenmarket will be open regular hours, however, Union Square, City Hall and Staten Island Ferry Terminal Greenmarkets will be closed. Harvest Home says that Murray Hill and Metropolitan Markets in Manhattan are open today, along with Jerome Avenue Market in the Bronx.

Our friends at Just Food say everyone there is safe and sound. However, they are sad to report that they were forced to postpone this weekend’s Kids Food Festival in Bryant Park. The new date is now set for next March 2nd and 3rd.

For the thousands of people still without power, many are relying on radio for their latest news. WNYC, which had to temporarily take its AM station off the air due to flooding, continues to broadcast on its FM tower and has been providing valuable information. Our friends over at Heritage Radio are doing an amazing job of keeping their listeners up to date on the food community in the area. They spoke with Grow NYC Greenmarket yesterday afternoon.

Our friends at City Green, in Clifton, New Jersey, tell us that their staff is safe, however, some are still without power.  Our partners in Southern New Jersey at Greensgrow Farms were spared serious damage, however, Sandy forced them to cancel their CSA pickup yesterday, and they are trying to reschedule pickups for tomorrow morning.

Here in Connecticut our partners to the north have not reported any serious damage or problems. In the Bridgeport area, however, Sandy forced the East Side Farm Stand to close this week. We are happy to report the market season will be extended one more week as we remind customers to hold on to their WIC and Senior farmers market checks. Even though they would have expired this past week, these important benefits will still be accepted at the East Side Farm Stand next Wednesday, November 7, from 10am-2pm.

In times of crisis, it is always reassuring to see Americans come together and support each other. I am grateful to our dedicated Wholesome Wave team, who kept the shop running from afar, despite the fact that many were dealing with power outages themselves. Many of us spent the week working from makeshift offices in coffee shops and friends’ homes.

We’re not out of the woods yet, and people will need support for sometime to come. We hope you can take time this weekend to volunteer or make a donation to support those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. NBC News put together a webpage that provides a number of ways you can help from wherever you are.


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Michel Nischan, CEO & President

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