Most Local Farmers Markets not Equipped for Food Assistance Programs

Apr 16, 2015

Clarification: 

Dr. Leslie Hossfeld, Executive Director of Feast Down East and Chair of UNCW's Sociology Department, says there are two Feast Down East weekly Fresh Markets in Wilmington which accept EBT cards:

Fresh Market at Rankin Terrace
Fridays, 10 am – 12:00 pm
Open Year Round
Located: Corner of 12th St. & Rankin St., Wilmington

Fresh Market at Hillcrest
Fridays, 1:30pm – 4pm
Open Year Round
Located: Corner of S. 13th St & Meares St.

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North Carolina ranks fifth in the nation for food insecurity. 

That means a strikingly high number of people in the Tar Heel state don’t know where their next meal is coming from, they may frequently skip meals, or they may have to choose between paying a utility bill and buying food. 

There’s a correlation between food insecurity and obesity – another health issue that’s widespread in North Carolina. 

Dr. Jill Waity is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UNCW.  She says that link might sound counter-intuitive, but healthier, less calorie-dense, higher-quality foods usually cost more.   

One way to increase access to healthy food, says Waity -- equip farmers markets with EBT machines so they’re able to accept food stamps. 

"A lot of farmers markets in the country do have that… Some places will even double your SNAP dollars, so if you go there you can get twice as much money to buy fruits and vegetables at the farmers market.  So those are some really great ideas to try to get people better access."

A spokesperson for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina says there are no farm markets in Wilmington’s immediate vicinity that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance or food stamps.  The closest markets that do are Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville and the Columbus County Community Farmers Market in Whiteville.