The Los Angeles City Council took a step toward requiring farmers markets in the city to accept food stamps as payment.
The council voted on Friday to request that the City Attorney's Office draft an ordinance that would require farmers market operators on public and private property to incorporate the state's CalFresh-issued Electronic Benefit Transfer cards as a payment method.
The ordinance was proposed by council members Nury Martinez and Jose Huizar and is aimed at bringing more fresh fruits and vegetables to "food deserts,'' areas with no major supermarkets or other plentiful sources of fresh foods.
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Farmers market operators should be able to obtain free EBT terminals from the state, according to the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. The terminals issue "scrips'' that can be used by shoppers at individual stalls and redeemed later by sellers.
The ordinance will be brought back for a future council vote.
In the meantime, Huizar and the food council will host an event on Tuesday at 10 a.m. with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers market operators sign up on the spot to be Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program retailers, which makes them eligible to obtain EBT technology.