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Illinois Encouraging Use Of LINK Cards At Farmers Markets

roberts250 Bob Roberts
Bob Roberts is a native of Wilmette who has worked in Chicago media...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The State of Illinois is hoping to prompt a new type of customer to visit farmers markets for fresh produce – those on food stamps.

The farmer’s market at 61st and Dorchester looks typical – farmers selling everything from mushrooms to jam. The difference is that all take the state-issued LINK card, and special coupons known as nutrition incentives that double the recipients’ buying power.

Malini Ram-Moraghan oversees healthy food initiatives for the group Wholesome Wave. She said studies have shown repeatedly that the incentive coupons break bad eating habits and instill good ones.

Ram-Moraghan wants more incentives, and more federal funding for farmers’ markets nationwide to sign-up to take the cards.

To date, 38 Illinois farmers’ markets accept LINK cards. Hundreds more do not, and Gov. Pat Quinn said, while touring the Dorchester market Saturday, that accepting LINK can reap benefits both for shoppers and for the farmers who sell their goods at the markets.

For a list of Chicago-area farmers markets, click here.