By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
Salisbury Farmers’ Market is making fresh fruits and vegetables easier to buy and eat for lower income households.
The N.C. Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Programs pilot project is linking three USDA-affiliated food assistance programs for senior citizens, WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clients and Food and Nutrition Services (FNS/food stamps) participants to encourage and enable them to use any of their benefits at the participating farmers’ market.
The Salisbury Farmers’ Market has offered these services for the past three seasons. It allows the “total package” for shoppers wanting local fresh produce.
Approximately 27 farmers’ markets across the state offer FNS participants use of their benefits cards for food purchases. In addition, WIC and senior food programs offer coupons to their clients for shopping at selected farmers’ markets.
Agriculture and health officials believe that linking all three programs through the pilot project at the Salisbury Farmers’ Market may get more lower income families to visit farmers’ markets in their communities and encourage them to make the markets part of their regular shopping routine.
“By bringing these programs together, we are helping individuals stretch their food dollars and support their local farmers as well,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler.
The N.C. Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Programs pilot project is made possible by linking the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the 21st Century Farmers’ Markets Program through support from the Division of Public Health, Division of Aging and Adult Services and the Division of Social Services, all in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, and the statewide nonprofit, Leaflight. At the community level partners include: Rowan Senior Services, Rowan Department of Social Services and the Rowan County Health Department.
The N.C. Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Programs pilot project will continue throughout the summer and will be evaluated for future expansion.
For more information on the project contact Darrell Blackwelder at 704-216-8970.
By Darrell Blackwelder