Snapping up a good program

KOLOA — Risa Clemmons had no idea the EBT program was restarting Monday at the Koloa sunshine market at Anne Knudsen Park.

“This is kind of our soft opening,” said Sasha Figueira, one of the EBT monitors at Malama Kauai. “Our first real day is Wednesday at the Kapaa sunshine market.”

Malama Kauai, in partnership with the County of Kauai Office of Economic Development, will provide access for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, enabling SNAP recipients to shop at select county farmers markets using their Electronics Benefits Transfer system.

Under the EBT SNAP program, participants will be able to exchange funds from their EBT card for “Kauai Cash” tokens, which will allow them to purchase eligible food items from authorized vendors identified with an “EBT Tokens Accepted Here” sign.

The tokens, created of green plastic, serve as the official form of currency for purchases within the EBT SNAP program. All others, including the former wooden ones, will not be accepted.

“We are proud to support this program for the people and farmers of Kauai,” said Keone Kealoha, the Malama Kauai executive director. “Having these benefits available at farmers markets will provide increased access to fresh, healthy and local foods, supporting those that most need them while giving our local farmers and producers additional revenue. It’s a win-win. It’s a program we hope to see continue well into the future.”

Elisa Weiss of Malama Kauai was helping Figueira at the EBT exchange table on Monday.

“Right now, we’ll be at the Kapaa sunshine market and the Lihue sunshine markets each week,” Weiss said. “There are other markets, like the Koloa market on Mondays, the Hanapepe market on Thursdays, and the Kilauea market, where we will be available only on the first two weeks of the month, on, or after the fifth of the month.”

Figueira said they will be set up at least 30 minutes ahead of the market opening to allow SNAP participants to be in line for their favorite vendors.

Clemmons, who was busy with her regular customers, said she needs to check on getting her EBT sign.

“It was good when they had it before,” Clemmons said of the program that was put on hold for over a year. “I’m glad it’s back.

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