Franklin County Commissioners today are expected to approve spending 10 thousand dollars on a program to help low-income residents buy fresh produce at local farmers markets.
Jim Letizia reports.
The program, called Veggie SNAPs, is modeled after one launched last year at the Pearl Market downtown. It allows people who get food stamp, also called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits, to use them at six area farmers markets. Recipients who take their electronic benefits card to one of the markets will be able to debit 20 dollars worth of tokens to spend on fresh produce. The tokens may be used several times a week if a benficiary goes to different markets. Officials say central Ohio families who use food stamps hesitate to shop at the markets because the produce is too expensive. They hope the program changes that, and helps reduce the number of people who get health problems associated with bad nutrition. The county and the city of Columbus are each providing 10 thousand dollars in matching funds for the program. Columbus Public Health statistics show obesity and diabetes rates are growing, and there are several neighborhoods where fresh produce is not available.