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Grant will provide 2-for-1 deal for food stamp recipients for local produce
Nancy Ochoa of Laurel Grove Farms gathers up some produce to at the Spotsylvania Farmers market.
MIKE MORONES/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 9/18/2009
Traditionally, farmers market shopping has been nearly impossible for two groups of people--those who don't carry cash and those who use food stamps to buy their food.
A local group will launch a program this Saturday that aims to eliminate both of these obstacles to buying fresh, locally grown produce, meats and other food products.
At Spotsylvania County's Gordon Road commuter lot farmers market on Saturday, the regional Buy Fresh Buy Local group will set up a stand with machines that will allow people to use their debit or Electronic Benefit Transfer cards to get tokens to use at that market.
The program is made possible by a grant from the Wholesome Wave Foundation.
The grant also provides money to allow EBT customers to double their money when they buy tokens to use at the market, up to $10 at a time. That means if you swipe your EBT card to get $6 worth of tokens, you'll have $12 to spend at the market.
Debit customers will be charged a $1 fee to access the tokens and will be able to buy a minimum of $10 worth at a time.
The program is a partnership among the Quin Rivers community action group, the Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Gordon Road farmers market executive committee, Spotsylvania's Department of Social Services and the Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging.
"We want people to realize what a great market we have and to get more people to experience the market and really see the value and the healthy nutritious food that's available every week," said Elizabeth Borst, who is managing the program.
The grant for the matching money will run through the rest of this market season and the 2010 season, or whenever the $7,000 in matching funds are exhausted.
Borst said the groups working on the program hope to seek out local foundations or institutions that can provide money to keep it going and possibly expand it to other farmers markets in the region.
Before next year's market season, Borst hopes to work on other issues to make the program more accessible, such as providing transportation to get customers who use government benefits to Gordon Road, which is not currently served by FRED buses on Saturdays.