For a Minnesota bank that has been around for nearly 100 years, playing a vital role in its community just comes naturally. Grand Rapids State Bank, based in Grand Rapids, MN, knows the importance of going local and lending a helping hand to neighbors whenever possible. When the opportunity came to create a first-of-its-kind partnership with the Grand Rapids Farmers Market, the folks at GRSB knew the benefits would be far reaching to everyone in their community.
The partnership Grand Rapids State Bank coordinates with the farmers market is through Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. These cards are part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, which many people recognize by its former name – the Food Stamp Program. Grand Rapids State Bank helps families who are part SNAP use their EBT debit cards to purchase fresh produce and items from the Grand Rapids Farmers Market. The farmers market happily accepts food stamps, but without help from GRSB, running a magnetic card reader outdoors in the market would be nearly impossible.
After receiving grants from the Minnesota Farmers Market Association to purchase a wireless card reader – for EBT cards but also traditional debit and credit cards – the Grand Rapids Farmers Market was part of the way to finally allowing cards to be used in the market in addition to cash. But who would be able to handle all of the monetary things behind the scenes? Grand Rapids State Bank of course! GRSB handles all of the card transactions and help ensure that the farmers get paid for the purchases. During the 2012 season, the farmers market had nearly $5,000 from EBT sales and anticipates similar (if not better) results for 2013.
“Grand Rapids State Bank is always eager to do whatever is necessary to be of assistance to our community,” Noah Wilcox, president and CEO at Grand Rapids State Bank, said. “There is no better way to go local than by helping everyone in our community get better access to fresh produce from local farmers and shopping with the farmers market vendors. Facilitating the transactions from EBT sales is just one of the many ways we can give back to our community during the spring and summer months.”
As the Grand Rapids Herald-Review described it, home-grown food and a home-grown bank, you can’t ask for a better combination!
Tell us about your community’s farmers market! Are you a community bank who sponsors a market in your town? Let us know! We’re always encouraging people to bank local, dine local and shop local.
Each Friday this May, be on the lookout for Go Local’s Friday Farmers Market posts. We’re highlighting the great works community banks from across the country do with their local markets.