COLUMBUS, Ohio â€“ Local officials are trying to make it easier for low-income families to get fresh produce from farmersâ€™ markets around Columbus.
Through a program called Veggie SNAPS, Franklin County and the city of Columbus are contributing $20,000 to cover the costs for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to double the worth of their benefits, up to $10, at participating markets.
SNAP is the new name of the federal governmentâ€™s food stamp program, which was recently cut by $193 million in Ohio as a result of reductions in the 2014 Farm Bill.
â€śThe produce that you purchase at a farmersâ€™ market was picked that morning or the night before, and are at their nutritional peak. Programs such as Veggie SNAPS not only create access and provide food sustainability forâ€¦users, but they also educate consumers and boost the local economy. Studies show that dollars that are spent locally are re-spent four to six times within a community before that dollar leaves the community.â€ť said Pearl Market manager Adam Schroeder.
The program is an outgrowth of one that started with Schroederâ€™s market last year, when he saw a 134 percent increase in SNAP transactions over 2012. County officials say similar programs have been successful in Cleveland and Michigan.
Six farmersâ€™ markets will take part in the program this year: Bexley, Clintonville, Columbus Public Health, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Franklinton Gardens, and Pearl Market
Officials say supporting local farms markets helps the stateâ€™s $79 billion agriculture industry and stimulates the local economy. They say, for dollar of SNAP benefits used for a purchase, $1.70 of economic activity is estimated to result.
The $8.6 billion in cuts from the federal SNAP program cost the 215,694 SNAP recipients in Franklin County about $29 a month, county officials said.
2014 Participating Franklin County Farmersâ€™ Market and Dates
Bexley Farmersâ€™ Market: Thursdays (4:00 â€“ 7:00 p.m.)
Clintonville Farmersâ€™ Market: Saturdays (9:00 a.m. â€“ noon) through November 22; Wednesdays (4:00 â€“ 7:00 p.m.) through August 20
Columbus Public Health: Thursdays, July 31, August 7, August 14 (10:00 a.m. â€“ 1:00 p.m.)
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Farmersâ€™ Market: Wednesdays, (3:30-6:30 p.m.) through October 1.
Pearl Market: Tuesdays/Thursdays (10:30 a.m. â€“ 2:00 p.m.) through October