By Jefferson Tyler
HONOLULU, Hawaii (KITV) — Like everything else, food prices are going up.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the cost of food today is 9.4% percent higher than it was last year.
Some farmers markets are offering residents some financial relief, by taking EBT, or food stamps.
Prices are traditionally lower at farmer’s markets versus a supermarket. An organizer for the Honolulu Farmer’s Market says while many of the farmers markets take food stamps or EBT benefits on the Island of Hawaii, only 3 do on Oahu.
Sales are up right now at the Honolulu Farmer’s Market, which is held every Wednesday at the Blaisdell Center.
The market takes food stamps for some of their vendors, and those numbers are inching higher as well.
EBT usage was at an average minimum of $356 dollars a week in April verus $267 a week in February. Larry Geller who helps facilitate EBT at the Honolulu Farmer’s Market says that’s good for right now. But the trend on EBT could soon be going in a different direction, because extra food stamp dollars were available during the pandemic.
Benefits have basically stopped. Not just in food stamps, but all areas. Both the federal and state consider the pandemic over and assistance has dried up,” said Geller.
That and the cost of inflation are why they want to get the word out about using food stamps at these venues. Nationally, fresh fruit prices are up 8.3% right now from last year, and fresh veggies are up 6.2% from last year.
Here’s a list of what you can get here at the Honolulu Farmer’s Market with food stamps:
Cold prepared foods such as soups and empanadas
Bread and Cereals
Raw beef, pork, and chicken
Fruits and veggies.
Both farmers and those who are struggling financially are going to see benefits from using federal dollars at the markets.
“It gives us more diverse customers. Maybe 10%-15% of our income comes from guys that use food stamps at this market. So it’s significant,” said farmer King Thephsourinthone.
“People who are financially struggling still need to eat healthy. There are people with diabetes, heart conditions, and so forth out there. The only intervention that works for a wide range of people is improving their diet. At the farmer’s market many of the items you see, the fruits and vegetables, were picked that morning. They’re fresh,” said Geller.
To use food stamps at the farmer’s market, look for the Farm Bureau tent. They can run your EBT card, and give you little plastic cards that can be used as currency with vendors.
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