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Archive for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

City approves, county to consider investing in farmers market food stamp program

April 22, 2014, 9:43 p.m. Updated April 22, 2014, 9:44 p.m.

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Lawrence city commissioners are on board with a program designed to double the amount of money food stamp recipients have to spend at local farmers' markets.

Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting unanimously agreed to provide $10,600 for a pilot project that would allow users of the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — aka food stamps — to buy produce and other goods at a subsidized rate at the Downtown Lawrence Farmers' Market and the Cottin's Hardware Farmers Market. Douglas County commissioners also will consider providing $10,600 in funding for the program at their meeting Wednesday afternoon.

The program would give a SNAP enrollee the opportunity to turn $20 into $40, said Christina Holt, chair of LiveWell's Healthy Food for All work group, which is proposing the program. If a SNAP user "spent" $40 at a farmers market, only $20 would be deducted from the SNAP account. The other $20 would be funded through the program, so farmers can still receive all of their money.

"Something we've heard time and time again through focus groups and surveys and interviews were that people wanted to eat healthier but that they cannot afford to do so," she said.

Increased access to healthy foods has been identified as a priority by the county's five-year health plan, Roadmap to a Healthier Douglas County. According to Feeding America, a national hunger-relief charity, more than 18,000 Douglas County residents in 2012 had a limited availability of nutritionally adequate foods.

A similar initiative, the Beans & Greens program in the Kansas City area, has seen "quite a growth" in food stamp dollars spent at farmers markets, Holt said.

Money from the city and county governments would be used for the matching funds, Holt said. LiveWell is also pledging $3,800 to the program, which would run from June through September or until the funds dry up.

In the future, the organization would look outside Douglas County for continued funding, Holt said.

County commissioners meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Douglas County Courthouse.

— Journal-World reporter Chad Lawhorn contributed to this report.

Comments

Leslie Swearingen 8 months ago

As a SNAP recipient I urge them to pass this program. It would not only really help me but the farmers as well. I would also like to encourage other recipients to go to the farmers market. Each of us needs to make an investment of time and thoughtfulness in our own health. I know that doctors are frustrated when they see patients who are causing or contributing to their health problems, some of which are severe, but the patient doesn't listen to them.

Show your doctor that you do respect both yourself and them. Each of us has the right to be strong and healthy and so much of this is within our own control. We cannot control whether or not this is passed, but we can let them know how much this matters by e-mailing commissioners. If you don't have a computer I am sure someone at the library would be happy to help you with this task.

Let each one of us, no matter the social class or race or gender, take health into our own hands and become active not only physically but politically so we can be equal partners in change.

Leslie

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