Weiss farmers market, Chicago’s only hospital-based farmers market, is now accepting Link cards as payment for produce and other items sold at the market. Anyone approved to receive cash assistance or SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits is issued an Illinois Link card. The Link card looks and works like a debit card.
Thanks to the Wholesome LINK Campaign for promoting Link access at the Uptown Farmer’s Market managed by the Vanguard Weiss Memorial hospital, to get healthier foods to a group of people who may not otherwise have financial access to farm fresh foods. The campaign was started by a group of community members affiliated with Ezra and Mercy Housing Tenant Leadership, as well as other community supporters.
Last week on June 21st, Wholesome LINK campaign hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the launch of Link card access at the Uptown Farmer’s Market. Among enthusiastic attendees were 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman and Lakeview Pantry’s director of education and advocacy, Sreya Sarkar.
An estimated 10,000 households in Uptown use Link cards, so this will present more low-income residents the opportunity to enjoy fresh and healthy food choices.
Two additional demands of the Campaign’s proposal are—establishing a matching program for Link purchaser and incorporating community education and outreach in the market.
The market has integrated free health screenings, informational talks from dieticians and farmers, and cooking demonstrations by local chefs, including those from Inspiration Café—as part of the community education and outreach.
The hospital is still working on the matching program for Link purchasers and is trying to connect with LINK up Illinois, a program that helps achieve this goal by providing farmers markets across the state with
funding for Double Value Coupon incentive programs for Link Card shoppers.
Managing the Uptown Farmers Market at Weiss is part of the hospital’s Health for Life initiative, which emphasizes healthy living habits for people of all ages. The market started on June 21st and runs every Thursday from 7 am to 1 pm through October 25th.