Local Books and Food

I don’t always read the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Metro section because it has a tendency to be depressing.  It seems like a lot of the stories are about local people involved in drunk driving crashes, child abuse cases, murders, robberies, scandals,  etc.  Yeah – go neighbors!

However, yesterday’s Metro had two inspiring stories – one on the James J. Hill Library in St. Paul, and the other about EBT being used at the Midtown Farmer’s Market in Minneapolis.

In the James J. Hill Library story, author Jean Hopfensperger introduces us to the James J. Hill library.  For some of her readers I’m sure it was a re-introduction, but I had never heard of the JJH Library in St. Paul.  And I love libraries!  Especially old libraries with leather chairs and lots of wood and marble accents like JJH Library has.  Look at how gorgeous this library is (source):

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The library’s board of directors is renting out the space for conferences, music and art exhibits and weddings.  I found these pics in a google image search – gorgeous!


I can’t wait to get over to St. Paul and check this place out!

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The other article was by Gail Rosenblum and it was all about the Midtown Farmer’s Market, located by the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha in south Minneapolis, and “Market Bucks” available for users of EBT.  EBT is what they used to call “food stamps”.  The USDA defines EBT as “an electronic system that allows a recipient to authorize transfer of their government benefits from a Federal account to a retailer account to pay for products received.”

So low income families can go to Minneapolis Farmers’ Markets and use their EBT to buy groceries, just like they can at most retail grocers.  The Minneapolis and Northeast Farmers’ Markets also accept EBT, but Midtown is offering an additional benefit: For the first $5 spent in EBT, a user will be given $5 additional “Market Bucks” that they can use to purchase additional food!  The program isn’t funded by taxpayer money, but by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.  From the article:

Blue Cross is funding the Market Bucks pilot, using proceeds from its 1998 Big Tobacco settlement. The effort is one of many created by Blue Cross (think “Do” campaign) to get all Minnesotans to eat better and fight rising obesity rates.

I think this is an excellent use of Big Tobacco money!

I mentor a teenager whose mother uses EBT.  One time several months ago I offered to take her to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market on Lyndale and she told me that she didn’t have the money to shop there.  I can’t wait to tell her – I hope it will give her an opportunity to enjoy the Market and have a unique shopping option.

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The vegetable photo above is not from the Midtown Market, but I thought it was a very pretty composition and it does resemble the open air atmosphere of Midtown.

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18 thoughts on “Local Books and Food

  1. 1

    That is such fantastic news about the EBT usage… after being a cashier and see metric ass tons of Doritos being purchased on EBT, this is a refreshing pilot program. Although I wonder how they will regulate stuff that is hand wrung because EBT cannot be used for “ready to eat” items, i.e. pastries or rotisserie chicken (at least at the grocery stores). Random right?

  2. 2

    I applied for a job with Ramsey County during the summer of 1999. I picked up the lengthy application at the Government Center located in St. Paul. I then went to the James J. Hill Library to complete the application. The library is magnificent and regal. I remember feeling surprised that they allowed me inside, surprised that they didn’t require me to pass the bar exam first. The library was nearly empty when I was there I remember thinking that it would is an excellent place to study your discipline of choice. Postscript: I did not get the Ramsey County job.

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