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Due to $5K grant, debit cards will be OK to use at Becker Market

WILLMAR -- The Willmar Design Center has received a $5,000 grant from the Willmar Area Community Foundation to buy an electronic benefits transfer machine that will let Becker Market shoppers pay for their purchases with their debit cards.

The grant will be used to buy the machine and to train Becker Market staff and vendors who sell their food and other wares at the summertime outdoor market in downtown Willmar. Besides accepting debit cards, the machine will accept the cards used by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which administers the program, is encouraging card recipients to buy fresh, locally produced food.

"We'll be able to accept anybody's debit card and SNAP cards,'' said Beverly Dougherty, Design Center project coordinator. "We wanted to get this machine for both reasons, to make this a little easier to buy at the market.''

Dougherty said studies have shown that sales at markets such as Becker Market increase as much as 25 percent if shoppers have an electronic benefits transfer machine available to them. She said some markets on the east coast use the machines, including a market in Vermont where Dougherty said she obtained some of the data.

The grant will also be used by Becker Market to present demonstrations on how to cook the food that is purchased at the market. The demonstrations will be recorded and the videos will be presented on the new Becker Market website, which is Sign-up for the Becker Market newsletter is available there. Dougherty is hoping the machine will arrive during the next couple of weeks. The goal is to have the machine operational in time for the first market on June 3.

"We'll be using it right out on the market street,'' she said.

The annual Becker Market is a project of the Design Center. This is the Foundation's third grant to the Design Center. The first grant of $3,500 was used three years ago for the market and the second grant last year of $4,500 will be used to buy street furniture for the new Becker Avenue redesign.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150