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Fairfax County Farmers Markets Expand 'Food Stamp' Program

Funding, donations help consumers make healthier food choices.

Fairfax County Farmers Markets have received two grants to support expansion of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) at-market benefits program, formerly known as "food stamps." Fairfax County photo
Fairfax County Farmers Markets have received two grants to support expansion of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) at-market benefits program, formerly known as "food stamps." Fairfax County photo

Fairfax County Farmers Markets have received two grants to support expansion of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) at-market benefits program, formerly known as "food stamps." 

The 2014 awards will allow for an expanded program which will make farmers markets more accessible to low-income families shopping for fresh, locally produced food. The number of locations that will accept SNAP benefits has increased to four, and a corporate partner has provided funding for a summer intern who will coordinate community outreach and education for the program.

Locations accepting SNAP benefits include farmers markets in:

Expansion of the program was made possible through partnerships with Cornerstones, Arcadia, INOVA and the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. The summer internship will be funded through the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program.

Also received in February was a scholarship from the Walmart Foundation and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, which enables Farmers Market Coordinator Mae Carroll to attend this year’s National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference. “This conference is a great opportunity to learn from SNAP outreach and advocacy programs across the nation,” said Carroll.

Three Fairfax County farmers markets will offer matching dollar programs, in which the amount of money spent by SNAP recipients will be matched up to ten dollars for fruits and vegetables. The intent of the matching program is to enable recipients to choose healthier options without spending more of their SNAP funds.  Reston, Lorton and the McCutcheon/Mount Vernon markets are all funded for matching dollar programs.  The Farm Stand at Frying Pan Farm Park accepts SNAP but will not participate in the matching dollar program this year.

The matching dollars programs at Lorton and McCutcheon/Mount Vernon markets are supported by Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture. The matching dollars program at Reston is supported by INOVA. Fundraising efforts continue through other community organizations and grant opportunities to expand this program. 

Fairfax County’s 11 farmers markets, including a new location this year at the Fairfax County Government Center, are supervised by the Fairfax County Park Authority through the Community Horticulture office at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria.  Volunteer Market Masters manage daily operations of the markets.  For more information call 703-642-0128 or visit online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/farmersmarkets.

Amrish Pinto (Realtor) February 28, 2014 at 07:59 AM
Talk about a win / win, this is great for the community as well as local farmers. Would love to see the stats on what $ value of food stamps gets used at at the farmers markets though.
John Lovaas February 28, 2014 at 08:29 AM
We are very pleased that SNAP is finally coming to the Reston Farmers Market! It will help lower income members of the community get the benefit of nutritious, fresh fruit and veggies again. We lost food assistance when Virginia killed the Women Infants a jd Children food stamps program in the markets 6 or 7 years ago. Thanks to the wonderful CORNERSTONES organization, INOVA, the Fairfax County Park Authority which sponsors 11 markets in the county including the Reston Farmers Market, and possibly local churches for making SNAP a reality! Don't forget NoVA's number One farmers market opens for the 2014 season on Saturday, May 1!
John Lovaas February 28, 2014 at 10:29 AM
Correction! The Reston Farmers Market opens the 2014 season on Saturday, MAY 2!

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