Nonprofit provides temporary fix to avoid shutdown of SNAP at farmers markets

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SNAP users will have at least another month to buy food from 18 farmers markets in Maryland and many more nationwide thanks to an infusion of cash from a Virginia nonprofit.

The National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs announced Thursday that it will provide operational funding to Novo Dia Group, whose software enables farmers market vendors to charge Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cards, for another 30 days.

The funding will serve as a stopgap measure while the federal government works out a long-term solution to the problem.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service administrator Brandon Lipps said in a statement that the department was “pleased to learn of the certainty this provides in the marketplace this summer.”

Novo Dia Group was expected to close its doors July 31, leaving farmers markets nationwide scrambling to find a new way to swipe SNAP cards or stop accepting business from people who use them.

The head of the Maryland Farmers Market Association estimated that the crisis would have cost farmers and markets $330,000 in lost revenue.

Eighteen of 24 farmers markets in Maryland that accept SNAP use Novo Dia Group’s system, according to the Maryland Farmers Market Association.

Total SNAP spending in Maryland neared $1 billion in 2017, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, and has reached $462 million in 2018.

Money spent at farmers markets has accounted for a small slice of that spending, though it has risen from $15,113 in 2010 to $90,050 in 2017, according to the Maryland Farmers Market Association.

Baltimore Sun reporter Gal Tziperman Lotan contributed to this article.

ctkacik@baltsun.com

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