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The Farmers Market.co Nutrition Incentive Program Soars Beyond Expectations
Healthful fresh produce is available for SNAP families at local farmers markets through the Nutrition Incentive Program.
MIKE MORONES/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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THROUGH THE FarmersMarket.co's Nutrition Incentive Program, low-income families were able to double their purchasing power at regional farmers markets in 2012. But heading into the 2013 season, this regional farmers market coalition is in need of private and corporate funding to continue this successful community program.
The market coalition runs centralized credit card and SNAP/EBT (food stamps) card operations at the four regional markets, distributing market tokens as a service to vendors and a convenience to customers.
"This number more than doubles our combined 2011 token sales of $59,962," reported Elizabeth Borst, program director and manager for the Spotsylvania farmers markets. "By supporting low-income access and affordability, this program creates real impact for both SNAP families and local farmers."
The Nutrition Incentive Program matches the first $10 of SNAP purchases each week, encouraging the use of federal nutrition benefits at farmers markets and helping to increase the consumption of healthful, fresh foods.
Besides increasing access to fresh locally grown produce and increasing buying power of low-income families for fresh, healthful foods, the program creates new income streams for local farmers and supports city and county economies directly through tax revenues.
"It has been a banner year for our token program," Borst said. "But when you stop to realize that token sales account for merely 8 to 10 percent of total market sales, then you begin to grasp the enormous impact our local markets are having on the region's economy, to the benefit of us all--especially the 65-plus farmers we serve."
The success of the Farmers Market.co's marketing efforts brought more than 100,000 shoppers to the markets in 2012, generating an estimated $1.5 million for the local economy.
"It's simple," said Wendy Stone, director of Fredericksburg Parks and Recreation, the agency that oversees the Fredericksburg Farmers Market. "By increasing access to locally grown fruits and vegetables and boosting the buying power of low-income families, they are eating healthier and our farmers are benefiting. It's