Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture to accept electronic food stamps

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 | 7:01 p.m. CDT
At the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture's production farm, labor that began in January 2010 bears fruit as summer delivers ripe produce. The farm, at corner of Fay Street and Smith Street will make its fruits, vegetables and herbs available to people in a new way by adopting the EBT system, which is similar to food stamps but uses debit cards. Staffed by volunteers, produce is sold at the site on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between 4 and 8 p.m. Adam Saunders, president of CCUA's board of directors, explains the new system.

COLUMBIA — Healthy food in Columbia is about to get more accessible.

Plans are in place at the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture to implement a system at its production farm, located at 1209 E. Smith St., to accept electronic food stamps called Electronic Benefit Transfer.

"A lot of people live on food stamps," said Adam Saunders, president of the center's board of directors. "It's really helpful for people because you got to get food in your belly. We're trying to make it so that more fresh food goes to people."

Electronic Benefit Transfer is a system similar to food stamps that allows its recipients to purchase food with a debit card. EBT is already used at many groceries and convenience stores, and in a nation where poverty is often associated with poor nutrition, the farm's use of the system offers another opportunity for food stamp recipients to buy locally grown produce.

Another bonus: At the center's production farm, where buyers will be able to use EBT, the organization will use a buy-one-get-one-free system.

"Every dollar for EBT is worth two (at our farm)," Saunders said. "So, that will make it more affordable, and our prices are already affordable. That will make some fantastic deals on good, good food."

Saunders said the two-for-one idea came from the local nonprofit group Sustainable Farms & Communities, which is trying to implement that system at the Columbia Farmers' Market.

The hitch at the farmers market is that the group still has to raise funds to fairly compensate farmers for their food, Saunders said. Because the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture relies on volunteers, the two-for-one system doesn't present the same financial problems.

The center's production farm plans to have an EBT machine available within the next week, pending some final paperwork, Saunders said.

The farm sells fresh produce from 4 to 8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The center also gives tours and accepts volunteers to work at the farm during those times.

Saunders encouraged people to come.

"This is a good time of year because there's a lot of things coming to harvest," Saunders said. "It's very exciting. It's a lot of work, but it's very rewarding. What we've been working for all spring is right now. The big harvest."

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Ray Shapiro August 13, 2010 | 1:20 a.m.

It always makes me feel good when I'd see a grocer, such as Kroger/Gerbes, attend to the special needs of our neighbors with disabilities.
Helpful assistance seems to come naturally towards those with mobility issues, visually impaired or with cognitive difficulties at these stores.
Such seems to be the case at the "best" of our merchants.
While I won't expect much from the Farmers Market or the Center for Urban Culture, in addition to attracting food stamp users, I trust that they at the very least have physical access for the vehicles used by people with disabilities and adequate ramps and corridors to and from their point of purchase areas.
And as far as the buy one get one free deal...can I just get the free one?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 13, 2010 | 5:33 a.m.

Both Farmers Markets are pretty ADA compliant. I don't know about CCUA's gardens - I'd imagine it's harder to provide wheelchair access around a lot of raised beds, or perhaps on loose or muddy soil.


(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 13, 2010 | 6:24 a.m.

@Mark Foecking wrong sir. You should talk to Jim De Jong of the Great Plains ADA who has filed three complaints with City Hall and numerous talks with the Farmers Market Head Honchos over Disabled Parking Areas and the results were zero replies from City Hall and a little lip service from the FM Folks saying something about the signs might fall onto parked cars and it would be a insurance issue.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 14, 2010 | 5:08 a.m.

I'll check when I go this morning, but I'm pretty sure Columbia farmers market has disabled parking as close to the entrance as practical. I see people in wheelchairs and scooters there all the time also.

Like I say, I'll check it out.


(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 14, 2010 | 5:55 a.m.

@Mark Foecking I'm just going by what Jim De Jong of the Great Plains ADA has communicated at many local meetings and to me personally when he and I talked about accessibility issues all around our community.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 14, 2010 | 4:13 p.m.

As of this morning, Columbia Farmers Market had four marked disabled parking slots. When I got there, three of them were open, and when I left, one was.

Boone County FM also has disabled parking, but it's not much different from the regular parking because of the way it's set up. Again, I'm not sure if there's a problem that can be solved.

Perhaps Jim De Jong is trying to make an issue where there is none? Activists do that all the time.


(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 14, 2010 | 4:29 p.m.

@Mark Foecking I assure you if there was NO issue Jim De Jong would not have anything to say about it. He is invited all over the entire Mid West to speak on all issues concerning accessibility for all citizens not only the disabled community. He also does seminars about accessibility for large groups of public officials. That means there must be an issue he sees that concerns not only the disabled but access for all involved.

I do kind of think your last statement is rather ignorant though were it looks like you lump all activists together. Maybe your choice of wording was off when you made your posts or you were still heated from riding your bike around today. Not all activists are alike nor should they be lumped together as a whole.

That would be like saying all older generation Bike Riders are spandex wearing,dope smoking yuppies wouldn't it?

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 14, 2010 | 4:39 p.m.

Carlos wrote:

"He is invited all over the entire Mid West to speak on all issues concerning accessibility for all citizens not only the disabled community."

Well, that means he makes a living at this, right? Major conflict of interest right there.

Perhaps a better indication of a problem would be if any of the local disability advocates have ever had a problem at the markets. Have any of them had issues with accessibility?


(Report Comment)
Carlos Sanchez August 14, 2010 | 5:21 p.m.

@Mark Foecking the only conflict I see and know of is your not knowing what mobile accessibility means according to the ADA Guidelines. It is obvious you have never met Jim De Jong nor chatted with him personally one on one or even heard him speak about mobile accessibility for all not only the physically disabled but the blind and the deaf.

If any group of the Disabled Community can teach and tell others what mobile accessibility means it is those who use manual wheel chairs as their main form of movement.

To your last question yes others have complained to no avail and that is why Mr De Jong is stepping in now on the issue.

I'm not dogging you Mark and have no needed to,it solves nothing but I am trying to help you understand the needs of those in wheel chairs who require a lager parking spot due to side chair lifts or they need to open their doors wider than others so they can pull their manual wheel chair out of the back seat,assemble it next to their car and transfer into it to become just as mobile as those walking normally.

Often times those who have no idea how it is to be physically/mobility disabled need to be reminded that hey we disabled love to do the exact same things a lot of the times that everyone else does.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking August 15, 2010 | 3:06 p.m.

Carlos, what I'm not understanding is what the deficiencies are at CFM and BCFM.

CFM: Four marked, wide disabled parking spaces. From there, you have hard, macadam, asphalt, or concrete surface all the way into the market. Perhaps some vendors may not have the most wheelchair friendly displays, but they'll bend over backwards to help someone to make a sale.

BCFM: Same disabled parking as the health dept, and more over by the BCNB ATM. Hard asphalt parking lot in good condition. Lots of access - probably better than CFM in some ways.

I fully support the idea that physically disabled people should have the same access to public facilities that anyone else has. I'm just not sure that the farmers markets don't have that access. How don't they?


(Report Comment)

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