Shoppers at Missouri Farmers Markets Could Get More Green If Bills Pass

Visit the La Chalupa Farmers Market in Kansas City’s Historic Northeast neighborhood on a Thursday afternoon this summer, and you’re bound to see piles of fresh, colorful produce. You’ll see friends greeting each other with smiles and hugs. You’ll see kids pestering their parents for cherry tomatoes.

You’ll also see a sign welcoming shoppers who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And then you’ll see folks leaving the market with armloads of home-grown goodness and freshly made bread. It’s a welcome sight given the February closing of one of the community’s three grocery stores.

Through the Menorah Legacy Foundation’s Kansas City Beans&Greens Program, SNAP shoppers receive a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $25 each week when they buy SNAP-eligible foods with their Electronic Benefit Transfer card at the market. (Other markets in the metro area offer the match, including City Market, which matches up to $15.)

The Historic Northeast is just one neighborhood working to improve healthy eating in Jackson County, which was ranked 75th in Missouri in the annual County Health Rankings, recently released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

The good news is that farmers markets like La Chalupa are popping up all over Missouri. Farmers markets make it easier for families to get healthy, affordable, locally-grown food in both urban and rural areas. They play a critical role in improving the health of children and their communities, and in strengthening the local economy. They can enliven blighted areas and even create a celebratory atmosphere that lifts spirits and encourages community involvement.

That’s why KC Healthy Kids is speaking up for two bills in the Missouri House that could make the food sold in farmers markets even more affordable for low-income families, and provide even more income for the farmers and gardeners selling produce there.

KC Healthy Kids has submitted testimony in favor of both of these bills in hopes they will be passed before the close of the legislative session in May.

HB 1879: SNAP Match Pilot Program
Introduced by Representative Jay Barnes, House Bill 1879 would establish a pilot dollar-matching program similar to the Kansas City Beans&Greens Program. Under the bill advanced Tuesday, the state would create a test program for participating markets where SNAP shoppers could be reimbursed up to $10 per week for buying meat, fruit and vegetables.

If approved, SNAP recipients shopping at certain farmers markets would be able to:

use an EBT card to purchase fresh produce with SNAP benefits; and
receive, each week, a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10 for every SNAP dollar spent at a participating farmers market as long as they use their EBT card. Dollars matched must be spent at that same farmers market.
HB 1435: Sales Tax Exemption at Farmers Markets
House bill 1435 would authorize a state and local sales and use tax exemption for certain products sold at farmers markets. This provision would also help low-income families afford more fresh produce.

Of 45 states that levy general sales taxes, most have eliminated, reduced, or offset the tax as applied to food for home consumption. Missouri is one of seven of those states that taxes groceries at lower rates than other goods. This is according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, “Which States Tax the Sale of Food for Home Consumption in 2009?”

About KC Healthy Kids
KC Healthy Kids is a private, nonprofit organization formed in 2005 to improve the health of Greater Kansas City’s children. They partner with communities and organizations to advance policies and environmental changes that support healthy eating and active living.

Want to start a farmers market in your community? Our action plan, Starting a Farmers Market, can get you going in the right direction.

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Health Forward Foundation
2300 Main Street, Suite 304
Kansas City, MO 64108
(816) 241-7006