Farmers Market Matching Program a Success
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Friday 18, September 2020
A program to match the money Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, recipients spend at the Dale City Farmers Market was established five years ago and is a roaring success.
People are taking advantage of the opportunity to get fresh fruits and vegetables and other SNAP-eligible food. According to Elizabeth Borst, executive director of Virginia Community Food Connections, which runs the SNAP and Virginia Fresh Match Program, “In these five years, we have developed the program at the Dale City Farmers Market into the largest SNAP and match program in Virginia. It is more successful than we dreamed. Last year, we did a total of $78,876 in SNAP and Virginia Fresh Match incentives in Dale City, in 1,482 transactions.”
Without this program, some low-income families may not get all the fruits and vegetables they need for a healthy diet. “The premise is that when people can afford to buy healthy fruits and vegetables, they will do so. This program provides that bridge between the foods people want and the food they are able to afford,” says Borst.
The Dale City Farmers Market is a great community market that makes fresh, locally grown food available for Prince William residents. The Virginia Fresh Match program attracts new shoppers to the market and makes affordable fresh food accessible to everyone in the community. “On any given Sunday, we’re running thousands of dollars in SNAP and incentives through that market, and it’s beneficial to those families in a direct way. It’s also beneficial to the farmers. It is a thriving community marketplace,” states Borst.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dale City Farmers Market has temporarily moved to the parking lot of Pfitzner Stadium at 7 County Complex Court in Woodbridge, which offers more space for social distancing. According to Borst, “If people are concerned, it’s in an outdoor space, and people are wearing masks.”
The money for the matching program comes from a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, enabling participating farmers markets to match up to $30 that each SNAP recipient spends. Other local partners, like Potomac Health Foundation, support the program, providing families with limited food budgets more purchasing power for fruits and vegetables.
More information on the SNAP Program is available online. To find other markets that accept and match SNAP, please visit VirginiaFreshMatch.org.