Marlinton Farmers Market Doubles SNAP Benefits
These days, you can find locally grown lettuce, spinach, and green onions for sale at the Marlinton Farmers Market. There are also flowers, eggs, jam, baked goods, and honey. And a new program is available, one that supports the use of SNAP and other nutrition-related benefits at farmers markets in the area. Laura Bozzi has been working to get the program off the ground.
“You can use SNAP at the Marlinton Farmers Market. We actually got grant funding to double those benefits, so if you bring your SNAP card to the market and you go to the market manager and you take out $10, you actually get $20 worth of tokens. So you get double the money that you pay.”
“Later in the season, we’ll also be able to double the vouchers that come through the senior farmers market program and the WIC farmers market program. So when those are redeemed at the market, we can double those as well.”
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. It’s known as the largest program in the domestic hunger support system.
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, there are over 8,000 farmers markets listed in the National Farmers Market Directory, and over 4,000 farmers’ markets and direct marketing farmers are authorized to accept SNAP nationwide. The idea of doubling SNAP benefits at farmers markets is growing as well, with this kind of program existing in other parts of the country. Bozzi believes that this will make farmers markets more accessible.
“I think it’s really exciting that the farmers markets can take SNAP because people feel like they can only shop there if they have the extra money to spend on local food and it’s this luxury good. We realized that one of the constraints is cost to shop at the farmers market, but it’s also knowing that it’s an option and knowing the hours and feeling welcome.”
The main Pocahontas County location is in Marlinton, but there are also farmers markets in Linwood and Green Bank. Those two markets don’t yet have the machinery to accept SNAP, but they are able to accept and double the amount of vouchers.
Marlinton’s farmers market is located next to the Mini Park. It’s open 8:30 AM to noon every Saturday through mid-October. For more information about this new program, the phone number is 304-645-6482.
“I think it will make for a better atmosphere at the farmers market if it feels like this community place where everybody feels welcome and everybody can shop there. It’s also helping to support the local economy, which, in the long term, we hope is helping to raise incomes and allow people to stay here and give them viable options here. And so, we feel like this program is helping on both the supply and demand side.”