"Excelsior Farmers Market Partners with ICA Food Shelf to Add EBT Card Usage," Sun Sailor, February 2018


Sun Sailor Newspapers
Paige Keiffer
February 2, 2018

With all the cold and snowy weather this winter, it’s exciting to think the Excelsior Farmers Market will return Tuesday, May 22, and will run through Tuesday, Sept. 25.

One change that customers will notice this year is the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the farmers’ market, has partnered with the ICA Food Shelf to add access for Electronic Benefits Transfer cards for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program users.

The idea to add EBT card access to the farmers market was put forward by Laura Hotvet, executive director of the chamber. 

She said that she saw how the Minnetonka and Hopkins farmers markets are set up so EBT cards can be used and she wanted the same system in Excelsior so SNAP users in the South Lake Minnetonka area could shop at the market.

“A number of people have asked every year if we accept the EBT cards and we haven’t had the proper mechanism built into the system and now we will be able to offer that,” Hotvet said.

From 2-6 p.m. Tuesdays May 22 to Sept. 25, the food shelf will have a booth in the middle of the market. The booth will have an ATM-like machine that will withdraw however much someone wants from their EBT card. Then they are given tokens that can be given to the vendors, who are then later reimbursed by the chamber. The tokens will only work at food vendors. The machine can also be used as a cash machine for anyone with debit cards.  

Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Hotvet and ICA Food Shelf Executive Director Peg Keenan are partnering to provide EBT card access to the Excelsior Farmers Market.

The booth will also provide more information for those who are in need of the ICA Food Shelf’s services, educational opportunities, volunteer and more information.

“The Excelsior Farmers’ Market won’t look any different but it will now have this regular involvement of the ICA Food Shelf on site,” Hotvet said. “They will have a variety of other offerings throughout the season such as activities, food drives and educational opportunism. This partnership allows for outreach opportunities. It helps reach those in need but it also allows us to educate the public on all that the ICA Food Shelf offers to enhance our community. It also allows them to reach out to potential volunteers or donors as well. In addition we get to build on relationships with our farmers and food providers where we can work with them to get food to those in need.”

The ICA Food Shelf provides food, employment and financial assistance annually to more than 800 families in Hopkins, Minnetonka, Excelsior, Shorewood, Deephaven, Greenwood and Woodland.

“In some areas we’re seeing an increase in need, in others a slight decrease,” said ICA Food Shelf Executive Director Peg Keenan. “People are still needing the employment support, especially the affordable housing support. Our food employments are down only a couple percent, which is only a handful of families. Overall our need is staying even. Our families that use us though more are using us twice a month instead of the typical once a month. The need is more frequent.”

Keenan said that the food shelf struggles to provide healthy food options to their clients. She said that healthy foods, especially produce, are more expensive and the food shelf doesn’t get enough donations.  

“At the ICA Food Shelf were always working towards increasing the healthy and nutritious options for our clients,” Keenan said. “The Excelsior Farmers Market is one way we can increase those options for our clients so they can access to healthy foods.”

Keenan said that the food shelf also works with farmers at local farmers markets to collect food that may expire soon or food that they may want to donate.

“The Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce’s responsibility of executing a farmers market is great and wonderful but I think what we were missing was an organization that we could partner with that is actually orientated around food and feeding people in need,” Hotvet said. “I think ICA Food Shelf has had such an important presence in downtown Excelsior and the greater South Lake Minnetonka area and having a further increased presence allows for a broader reach to those in need on the western side of their service area.”

For more information on the ICA Food Shelf, visit icafoodshelf.org or call 952-938-0729. The food shelf is located at 11588 K-Tel Dr., Minnetonka.

For more information on the Excelsior Farmers’ Market, visit bit.ly/1PCWp3X or call 952-474-6461.