Food Stamp Use at NYC Greenmarkets Doubled Last Year

Over the past couple of years, New York's City Council has spent $1.3 billion equipping farmers' markets with machines that can process food...

Over the past couple of years, New York's City Council has spent $1.3 million equipping farmers' markets with machines that can process food stamps. New data seems to show that investment paying off, as today's New York Daily News reports:

Open-air greenmarkets are now a destination for low-income New Yorkers, who spent more than $500,000 in food stamps last year at 40 markets around the city.

That's roughly twice the $251,000 in food stamps spent at greenmarkets in 2009.


Cynics might ascribe much of that increase to a general rise in food stamp use ever since the economic meltdown of 2008. However, according to data from the New York state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the number of individuals claiming food stamp benefits in New York City in October 2010 had increased by less than 200,000 people from 2009 figures. So City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has also been at the forefront of developing a city-wide food policy for New York, is perfectly justified in presenting this data as a success story:

This unequivocally proves that low-income people desperately want fresh fruits and vegetables. There's also half a million dollars that upstate and regional farms are now getting that they otherwise wouldn't be.

Fulfilling consumer demand and supporting local farmers are not the only reasons to encourage farmers' markets to accept food stamps: Given the relationship between poverty and obesity in America, the potential health benefits are immense. A 2008 study carried out by UCLA researchers found that participants in the federal WIC nutrition assistance program who were given vouchers to shop at farmers' markets ended up consuming three extra servings of fruit and vegetables per day, compared to their peers whose purchases were restricted to grocery stores.

As we reported last March, many states, but by no means all, have agreed to fund programs to facilitate the use of food stamps at farmers’ markets around the country. For example, only 36 states are signed up to the WIC Farmers Market nutrition program (the refuseniks, FYI, are Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming). Some obstacles to wider adoption include the expense of installing electronic benefit terminals, as well as the bureaucracy involved in certifying farmers and farmers' markets according to WIC standards.


Still, thanks to innovative ideas and federal, local, and nonprofit investment around the country, we're gradually making progress. Hopefully, today's announcement from New York City will ensure that farmers' market access expands even more rapidly in 2011.

Photo from GrowNYC's 2009 EBT Progress Report (pdf). Map shows states enrolled in the USDA's Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, as of April 2010.

via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less