The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, has expanded its benefits, and will now be accepted at local farmers markets in the Eastern Panhandle.
The program, known as WV FresHealthy Bucks Program, allows participating farmers markets to double shopper’s SNAP dollars—and the doubled dollars can be spent on fruits and vegetables.
“The WV FresHealthy Bucks Program was created to improve health and nutrition among SNAP beneficiaries, and in turn, build capacity and increased sales at the participating farmers markets,” said Fiona Harrison, marketing manager at Charles Town Farmers Market (CTFM). “The program allows SNAP dollars to go further, and encourages SNAP recipients to purchase and consume more fruits and vegetables.”
The SNAP and incentive bucks do not expire, and can be used at any of the participating markets this upcoming season: Shepherdstown Farmers Market, CTFM, and Martinsburg Farmers Market. Bucks can be used at Martinsburg Farmers Market on Friday, then Charles Town on Saturday, and/or Shepherdstown on Sunday without any issues. Alternatively, a customer is able to hold on to their bucks until they’re ready to spend them throughout the season.
Being part of the program means a great deal to Harrison, and she hopes CTFM continues to attract and inspire this population, and encourage healthy eating habits. Harrison said since CTFM’s involvement, SNAP sales have increased by over 1,300 percent.
“It means a great deal to me and to our market,” she stressed. “This program means that Charles Town Farmers Market now has access to a new customer base, and it gives the shopper access to local, healthy produce at an affordable price. The program has done nothing but benefit the Charles Town Farmers Market, and we love seeing the same faces using their EBT benefits each week. It means that we can be a source of healthy eating habits—and that people are buying and eating some products for the first time.”By Lena Camilletti