The Local Food Security Project
Farmers markets in our county are vibrant and necessary community spaces which offer residents and visitors alike a space to enjoy Florida’s bounty as well as music, drinks, and local crafts. FOG has worked since 2010 to ensure every member of our county has the ability to purchase fresh, locally-produced food for their families through the Local Food Security Project, previously known as the “Alachua County Farmers Markets EBT Project” and the “Local EBT Project.”
Regardless of the name, this project has consistently offered SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants a way to use their benefits to purchase eligible food at farmers markets in Alachua County. This project has received valuable support from local government, Wells Fargo Bank, the Farmers Market Coalition, USDA grant programs, and from the markets themselves. Currently, three markets are in the FOG network of SNAP-authorized markets, and two participate in the Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) program, which doubles SNAP dollars spent at FAB markets.
Local Food Security Project: Participating Farmers Markets
441 Farmers Market (FAB Market)
5920 NW 13th Street, Gainesville
Every Saturday, year-round, from 8:30 am to 12 pm
No pets allowed besides service animals
Union Street Farmers Market (FAB Market)
Bo Diddley Plaza, Gainesville
Every Wednesday, year-round, from 4 pm – 7 pm
Over 50+ vendors – produce, meats, cheeses, hot food, desserts, arts & crafts
Live music, kid’s play area, located in the heart of downtown
Alachua County Department of Health Farmers Market
224 SE 24th Street, Gainesville
Every Friday, year-round, from 8 am – 1 pm
Health Fair held monthly, with free information and giveaways!
*All vendors accept WIC FMNP coupons*
WHO CAN USE THIS SERVICE?
EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) technology allows SNAP recipients to use their EBT cards to purchase market money in the form of tokens, which can then be used to purchase SNAP-eligible items from any vendor at the authorized market.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The project uses a token system to enable customers with SNAP/EBT, Debit, and Credit Cards to shop at the farmers markets. Here’s how it works:
- A customer swipes the SNAP, Debit or Credit card at the SNAP/EBT booth and enters the PIN on the authorized machine.
- Project staff enters the amount of tokens requested into the terminal.
**Effective January 2016, there is a $2 fee for Debit and Credit cards. There is no fee for using a SNAP/EBT card.**
- Once the transaction is approved, the customer is given tokens in the amount requested: customers using SNAP will receive orange tokens and customers using Debit or Credit will receive yellow tokens. Tokens do not expire and can be used at any future market.
- The customer then uses the tokens at vendors throughout the market.
HOW DO I GET THERE?
The 441 Market at the SE corner of the intersection of State Road 121 (NW 34th Street), and U.S. 441 (NW 13th Street), 3.2 miles north of University Avenue, is also easily accessible from areas of the urban Gainesville and rural Alachua County community, and by bus routes from Gainesville.
Bus Route to North U.S. 441:
- Route 8 (Shands to North Walmart Supercenter): Runs every 90 minutes on Saturdays
The Union Street Farmers Market is highly accessible in downtown Gainesville at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. It is in close proximity to the Rosa Parks RTS Downtown Station servicing numerous bus routes, and to social service agencies and meal sites.
Bus Routes to Bo Diddley Community Plaza:
- Route 5 (Downtown Station to Oaks Mall): Runs every 20 to 30 minutes
- Route 15 (Downtown Station to NW 13th St): Runs every 30 to 60 minutes
The Alachua County Department of Health Farmers Market is located in East Gainesville, off University Avenue two miles east of the Waldo Road intersection. There is a bus stop both directly in front of the Health Department and also on the road where it is located.
Bus Routes to Health Department:
- Route 7 (Downtown Station to Eastwood Meadows): Runs every 60 minutes
- Route 11 (Rosa Parks Transfer Station To Eastwood Meadows): Runs every 30-60 minutes
WHY SHOULD I SHOP AT THESE FARMERS MARKETS?
Buying from a farmers market means you’re purchasing seasonal food harvested within a couple days of the market!
- Fresh Fruits & Veggies
- Travel cost is low, saving valuable fuel resources
- Your dollar is going back into the local economy, helping the farmers and other business owners in the community
Supporting these markets means supporting increased access to fruits and vegetables for areas of high food insecurity in Alachua County.
- Our SNAP-authorized markets are located specifically within food deserts and areas with low access to fresh food choices
- This project advocates for increased bus routes and ride-sharing options to these markets – if you’d like to be involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org!
- FOG’s SNAP/EBT market booth also functions as an information and education hub, with free resources on gardening, nutrition, cooking, and community events
- At participating FAB markets, SNAP shoppers can receive twice as many tokens as they swipe their card for! See www.freshaccessbucks.com for more info.