A stroll through the local farmers market is like walking through a cornucopia of abundance. Sweet potatoes are piled high near yellow onions and fresh greens. But before these ingredients are ready for the soup pot, a transaction must be made.
There are often financial barriers that separate people from fresh, healthy food. Several farmers markets in the region now accept SNAP tokens or vouchers. Once known as food stamps, SNAP is a nationwide effort to help low-income people access healthy food.
In some North Carolina mountain communities, a USDA pilot project will test innovative ways to better engage all communities with the abundance of fresh local produce available at the markets. A new USDA grant will help the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project connect people in Buncombe, Haywood, and Henderson counties with healthy food.
ASAP will foster relationships with local agencies and nonprofits that already help low-income people live healthy lives. Through this new grant, faith-based groups and social service agencies will help open the pathways to explain how SNAP works at farmers markets and to encourage the people they serve to make going to the market part of their eating routine.
More information about this pilot project can be found at http://asapconnections.org/farmers-market-snap-support-grant/.