Yesterday morning, Franklin County Commissioners passed a resolution to help make more local and fresh produce available to Central Ohio’s low-income residents through a program called Veggie SNAPS. The County and City of Columbus committed $10,000 each to Veggie SNAPS, a program that will allow residents who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (formerly food stamps) to redeem them for matching dollars at at six local farmers’ markets. The dollars will be used to match up to $10 in SNAP redemptions at participating markets, incentivizing the purchase of local produce. Participating markets include the Pearl Alley Market Downtown, the market at Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the Near East Side market sponsored by Columbus Public Health, as well as markets in the Bexley and the Clintonville and Franklinton neighborhoods.
The Franklin County Local Food Council would like to recognize all the hard work of community members, farmers’ market managers, and county government leaders involved in making this program a reality. In March, the Council hosted a community Listening Session to inform the FCLFC and the greater community about nutrition benefit enhancement programs such as Veggie SNAPS, and to gauge participants’ interest in these programs. Overwhelmingly, participants at the Listening Session supported the implementation of these types of programs. We are excited to see Franklin County initiate this project not four months later.
With the 2013 passage of a resolution to support a strong and resilient local food system in Franklin County, and the recent passage of the Veggie SNAPS resolution, Franklin County Commissioners have displayed increasing commitment to fostering a food system that closes gaps in access to local foods. The strong collaboration between the farmers’ markets, community members, and government officials which made passage of the Veggie SNAPS resolution possible displays the will of Franklin County residents to support strong and resilient local food systems, as well. Through forging such collaborations, Franklin County is taking great steps to creating and maintaining a stronger, healthier, and more resilient community.
The Columbus Dispatch published an article about the program on Sunday which can be read online here: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/07/13/county-to-help-more-enjoy-fresh-produce.html.
The County Commissioners press release can be read here: http://www.franklincountyohio.gov/ftp/cPub/12/documents/PDF/47312551-E6AE-B03A-32A17037382DA7AE.pdf.