County agrees to fund food stamp-farmer market program

The Douglas County Commission agreed to lend a hand in creating a pilot program for food stamp recipients to double their spending power at local farmers’ markets.

Commissioners on Wednesday agreed to invest $10,600 into the project, one day after Lawrence city commissioners elected to do the same. The program allows users of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — commonly known as food stamps — to double their funds when shopping at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market and Cottin’s Hardware Farmers’ Market.

For example, if a SNAP recipient made a $40 purchase at one of the markets, half that would come from the SNAP account and the other from the program. The project was proposed by LiveWell Lawrence, which is also contributing $3,800.

The item passed with ease Wednesday, with all three commissioners stating they were happy to approve it.

“I am very happy to have this in front of us,” said commissioner Nancy Thellman, second district.

The program will run from June through September or until the funds dry up. In the future, the organization will look to secure funding from outside of Douglas County to keep the program alive, according to Christina Holt, chair of LiveWell’s Healthy Food for All work group.

Holt said earlier in the week the program will allow SNAP enrollees to buy healthier foods. At the Wednesday meeting, Jill Elmers, a food vender, said others like her are excited for the “opportunity to bring more dollars into the hundred-and-something businesses that we do have at the farmers’ market.”