New food program aims to stretch SNAP dollars, help farmers

Local

The Old Town Farmers’ Market is bustling with people and vendors on Saturdays. It’s a great place to buy locally grown food.

However, for some low-income families, buying healthy food isn’t always possible.

According to Feeding America, one in eight people are struggling with hunger in Kansas.

Sunflower Health Plan has partnered with the Health and Wellness Coalition of Wichita and the YMCA to offer the Double Up Food Bucks program.

The program is for any family or individual who participates in SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“These families and individuals with their EBT card can use that and redeem those for Double Up Food Bucks, that essentially matches dollar for dollar what they can spend on healthy foods, and we’re talking about fruits and vegetables,” explained Miranda Steele from Sunflower Health Plan.

For example, if someone spends $20 with their EBT card, they will receive 20 tokens to buy more fruits and veggies.

People can receive up to $25 in tokens per day to spend on healthy food at the farmers’ market. The tokens could be saved for a later date.

Double Up Food Bucks is a way for those less fortunate to stretch food dollars so they can provide as much as they can for their families.

 “We see this as a great way to promote a healthy habit of nutritious food and also support the local farmers that are making this happen as well,” said Steele.

Farmers’ market vendors echoed Steele, saying the program encourages people to spend their money in the community — which supports the families who are growing the food.

Megan Greenway, with Orie’s Farm Fresh, sells her products at the Old Town Farmers’ Market. She said she’s seen more and more people using the Double Up Food Bucks tokens.

 “I see how excited they are just to know that if they come to the market and redeem their SNAP tokens, they’re also able to get this free money basically to spend on fruits and vegetables,” Greenway said.

The Wichita farmer has a passion for growing healthy food and talking to people about buying locally grown food.

“If people are willing to shop the market and see what they could buy there first and then supplement other needs at the grocery store, that’s kind of what we’d like to see on a larger scale,'” Greenway said.

Double Up Food Bucks is offered at the Kansas Grown! Farmers Markets in Wichita and Derby, Old Town Farmers’ Market, and Common Ground Producers and Growers Mobile Market. The Wichita farmers market season runs through October 27.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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