Grants will help needy buy local produce
Fredericksburg-area residents with low incomes will be able to stretch their food stamp dollars at several local farmers markets this year.
Grants from the community benefits funds of both Mary Washington Hospital and Stafford Hospital will provide food stamp clients with a $10 weekly match for benefits spent at farmers markets.
Other agencies also contribute to the farmers markets’ efforts. Those groups include the Virginia Cooperative Extension and Wholesome Wave.
The grants help families struggling to put food on the table as well as the farmers, said Elizabeth Borst, regional program leader for The Farmers Market.co.
“We are building vibrant community farmers markets by increasing access and affordability of fresh, local foods for all,” she said. “Local health care investment in our market programs is being leveraged to further build community connections between low-income consumers and farmers.”
Local farmers markets have accepted food stamps since 2009—placing the Fredericksburg area on the forefront of a movement to connect fresh, local food with people who use federal benefits.
Last year, the government started providing grants to farmers markets to pay for the costs of accepting Electronic Benefit Transfer cards. But locally, farmers markets had already tapped private grants so they could accept the EBT cards.
The hospital grants means food stamp users can get up to $20 of food for $10 in benefits.
That weekly match is available at the farmers markets in Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, King George and North Stafford.
The additional $10 gives families more healthful foods and gives more business to local farmers, Borst said. She hopes to see more farmers markets start accepting food stamps, so more people can have access to fresh foods.
Some families travel quite a distance to use their food stamps at local markets, Borst said.
“Everybody deserves high-quality food and we have that high-quality seasonal locally grown food at our farmers markets,” she said.
Amy Umble: 540/735-1973
WANT TO GO?
These area farmers markets accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits using EBT cards:
Fredericksburg Farmers Market at Prince Edward and George streets (Hurkamp Park) from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
- Mayfield Farmers Market, Dixon and Tyler streets from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.
- King George Farmers Market at King George Elementary School from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays.
- Spotsylvania Courthouse Village Farmers Market at 9010 Old Battlefield Blvd. from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursdays and 8 a.m to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
- Spotsylvania Farmers Market at 12150 Gordon Road from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
- Spotsylvania Farmers Market at Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center, 4600 Spotsylvania Parkway from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays
- North Stafford Farmers Market at 125 Hospital Center Blvd. from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays.