Some Illinois farmers markets to lose food stamp service

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) – Some of the folks who shop at farmers markets across the state of Illinois could soon be shut out.

One of the companies that allows people enrolled in the SNAP program, commonly known as food stamps, to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets is ending its service.

That means some markets in some states, and some in Illinois, will no longer be able to allow people to buy their produce with LINK cards.

Molly Gleason with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance that runs the farmers market in Springfield said it all depends on how a farmers market connects to the food stamp network.

“The EBT machine that is used to process LINK cards is funded in different ways at different farmers markets,” Gleason said. “Some farmers markets have grants, some farmers markets budget to fund them themselves. It really just depends on what your farmers market is doing.”

Illinois’ Farmers Market Association says on its website that 16 of the state’s markets will see a change.

Gleason said the Springfield market isn’t on that list.

“Our farmers market in Springfield is not impacted,” Gleason said. “But there are farmers markets across the state that are affected I know, for example, that the farmers market in Champaign is affected. So this is an issue.”

Gleason added people on food stamps bought about $16,000 worth of produce at the Springfield farmers market alone last year. She said a lot of people across the state could lose access to fresh produce.

The USDA, which runs the food stamp program, says it is working to find a new service provider.