In late December Forever Sunrise Organics in Piedmont began accepting cards issued to clients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to pay for door-to-door produce delivery. The small farm was already delivering produce to other recipients each month, but until now the farm’s owners had to deny customers who wanted to use SNAP benefits to pay for their service.
“It was very unfair. If you didn’t have cash we couldn’t sell you vegetables,” said Roxanna Sims, a co-owner at Forever Sunrise Organics.
The cards, called EBT cards for “electronic benefit transfer,” function like an ATM or bank card. They can only be used to purchase food items. EBT users are prohibited from purchasing non-food household items on the card.
Forever Sunrise Organics delivers about 50 boxes of seasonal produce to area homes and businesses each week through a program owners call “The Garden Box Club.” Every box includes about 10 items and is delivered for a cost of about $20.
“We come by your house, kind of like the milkman,” Sims said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved EBT use for Forever Sunrise Organics in November, but the farm wasn’t able to secure a mobile credit card scanner until December.
“We had no idea we could accept it, but we worked with them,” Sims said of the USDA. “There is just a need for it.”
Sims said it’s significant to her that more people will be able to access fresh local produce through Forever Sunrise Organics delivery service.
Limited access to healthier food options and the cost of such food are believed to keep some people from low-income households from eating healthier, according to 2009 USDA report. Researchers in 2009 found that some people are less likely to eat nutritious food because they live far from a supermarket and do not have easy access to transportation.
By accepting EBT, Sims said, she hopes Forever Sunrise Organics is able to reach more people who lack sufficient access to naturally grown produce.
“This is for people who want to eat healthier,” Sims said. “It encourages people to cook different foods and to eat more local.”
Staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.