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Markets to gain access to LINK, debit cards

Updated: August 28, 2012 6:11AM

The Aurora Farmers Market East and the Oswego Country Market are two of 41 farmers markets in Illinois that will receive federal grant funds to get the equipment needed to accept Link, debit and credit cards.

Each market will receive $1,200 grants from the Illinois Electronic Benefits Transfer Wireless Project, the state said this week.

The project could bring the total of Illinois farmers markets accepting the cards to 99, or about one-third of the state’s farmers markets, by year’s end.

Aurora’s other two market locations, the Saturday Farmers Market at Wilder Promenade and the Aurora Farmers Market West, at 1901 W. Galena Blvd., already accept Link cards, according to city spokesman Kevin Stahr.

The Electronic Benefits Transfer Wireless Project, funded by a grant from the USDA, aims to expand access to fresh produce for low-income residents and boost sales of local foods. “(Link) participation at farmers’ markets helps provide fresh fruit and vegetables to families and expands the customer base for local farmers — a win-win for agriculture and local communities,” said Audrey Rowe, of the USDA.

Benefiting farmers markets must obtain certification to accept Link cards through the USDA and must agree to use the wireless machine on all market days.

Participating markets will be able to keep the wireless EBT machines, but must absorb the wireless service costs after the project is complete in September 2013 or the grant is expended.

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