By Jinifer Rae
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides assistance with nutritional benefits to eligible recipients.Thanks to a new program initiated to improve access to nutritious foods, SNAP benefits can be used at the Johnson County Farmer’s Market, located at Ralph Stout Park, 345 N Shady St, in Mountain City. The Farmer’s Market is open from 9 am to noon on Saturdays and from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm on Tuesdays.
Tennessee’s 168 farmers markets are listed with Pick Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s program to help consumers identify and choose farm and food products grown or made in Tennessee. Each farmers market indicates on the Pick Tennessee site if it participates in SNAP. According to the Department of Agriculture’s website, every month more than a million people in Tennessee receive supplemental nutrition benefits.
“We are so happy that some of the farmer’s markets in Tennessee now offer this great service,” said Greer Gill, Ag Marketing Consultant for Agricultural Advancement Division of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA).
The TDA emphasized that a number of markets throughout the state work with organizations that allow SNAP users to double up to $20 worth of foods bought at those markets.
USDA and the AARP Foundation administer the Fresh Savings grant program to help people, especially older adults, add dollars to their SNAP budgets the agency said.It is noteworthy that without the SNAP partnership, farmers at farmers markets would miss out on the dollars allotted for SNAP and their double-up programs.
Gill stated, “This program helps the people of Tennessee, but it also helps the farmers,” confirming that through these programs, participating farmers receive as much benefit from SNAP as the people who need access to fresh, nutritious foods.
TDA officials explained that SNAP benefits are simple to use. Depending on the market, a SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card can be used as a debit card with individual vendors. At other markets, SNAP users go to the market’s information booth and request that the card is processed for a certain amount. The users then receive tokens that can be exchanged for fresh foods at the market. At these markets, farmers who accept SNAP
tokens are identified with signs.
For more information about the Tennessee department of Agriculture, please visit, www.tn.gov/agriculture.com.
For information about the Johnson County Farmers
Market, please visit www.johnsoncountyfm.org.