What is it?
The Token Program was established in 2012 in Eau Claire, WI at the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market and sells wooden tokens to anyone using credit, debit, or FoodShare cards. Tokens are used like cash at the farmers market. This makes it possible for people using FoodShare to shop at the market and also creates a way for anyone who forgot their cash (or came up short) to shop at the farmers market.
Why is it important?
In 2004, SNAP (FoodShare) discontinued the food stamp system and started using electronic benefit transfer cards (EBT) to administer food assistance benefits. While this was a helpful and much needed change in many ways, it prevented the beneficiaries of SNAP from shopping at farmers market because market vendors only deal in cash. SNAP participants, who previously were able to use their food stamps at the market, suddenly could no longer shop there with their food assistance benefit. This ignited a movement around the country to fix this problem. In 2012, the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market joined the movement and established the Token Program.
How does it work?
In 2012, the Token Program served 90 people, by 2014, it was serving 165.
In 2014, over $7,500 of FoodShare (SNAP) benefits was spent at the Token Program and at the farmers market.
Over $14,000 of FoodShare (SNAP) benefits was spent at the Token Program and the farmers market in the first three years of the Token Program.
This growing program not only extends the option to shop at the farmers market and lead a healthier lifestyle to those using FoodShare (SNAP), it also increases revenues for vendors at the market thereby enhancing our local economy.
Everyone wins with the Token Program!