People who receive state assistance will be eligible to get up to $20 extra per week when they shop at the Downtown Elgin Harvest Market this summer.
Customers who swipe their Link/EBT cards at the information booth at the Elgin market can get an additional $20 in Link tokens per week through a new "Link double couponing" program funded by a donation from BMO Harris Bank, said market manager Jennifer Benson, of the Downtown Neighborhood Association.
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The Elgin and Aurora farmers markets are the only two in Kane County that allow customers to use their Link/EBT cards, Benson said. South Elgin's farmers market also did that, but closed halfway through last year, she added.
Elgin resident Frances Garry said she was happy to hear about the extra incentive to use her Link card at the Elgin market. Last year, she shopped there regularly, she said.
"It's an extra bonus to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for your family," she said. "The media and everyone is always telling you to be healthy, but you can't do that if you're trying to pay bills."
Benson said she toyed with the idea of reaching out to the Chicago-based partnership Link Up Illinois for a double-couponing grant, then decided to look for a community partner, she said.
"I am proud that we are able to assist the Downtown Neighborhood Association in their mission to help residents get access to locally grown and sustainably produced food while providing an outlet for educational opportunities on sustainable practices and healthy living," BMO Harris Bank Market President Jeff Blanchette said in a news release.
The Link/EBT program at the Downtown Elgin Harvest Market last year did "quite well," Benson said, generating $596 worth of sales to vendors, compared to an average $100 at other markets.
More than 6,500 people shopped last year at the Elgin market.
The market this year will have about 20 vendors. The Downtown Elgin Harvest Market will run 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday beginning June 6 through Oct. 3 at 200 N. Grove Ave. For more information, visit elginharvestmarket.com.