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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Local officials are trying to make it easier for low-income families to get fresh produce from farmers’ 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 government’s food stamp program, which was recently cut by $193 million in Ohio as a result of reductions in the 2014 Farm Bill.

“The produce that you purchase at a farmers’ 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 for…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.” said Pearl Market manager Adam Schroeder.

The program is an outgrowth of one that started with Schroeder’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 farmers’ 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 state’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 Farmers’ Market and Dates

Bexley Farmers’ Market: Thursdays (4:00 – 7:00 p.m.)

Clintonville Farmers’ Market: Saturdays (9:00 a.m. – noon) through November 22; Wednesdays (4:00 – 7:00 p.m.) through August 20

Columbus Public Health: Thursdays, July 31, August 7, August 14 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens Farmers’ Market: Wednesdays, (3:30-6:30 p.m.) through October 1.

Pearl Market: Tuesdays/Thursdays (10:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.) through October

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