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Tue, Sept. 17

Prescott’s Farmers Market has grant programs to promote healthy food

Families on limited income often stretch their food dollars by buying foods that may not be as nutritious as they might like, but cost less than purchasing farm-fresh products.

In an effort to assist such families, the federal Department of Agriculture awarded a $400,000 grant to state and local agencies connected to community-supported agriculture with the intention of making healthy food choices affordable. The Double Up Food Bucks AZ program offers families receiving federal food voucher benefits – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – an opportunity to buy fresh produce at community farmer’s markets and farm stands with a dollar-for-dollar match.

Prescott Farmer’s Market is the local provider of this program that enables families to participate such that if they spend $10 in fruits and vegetables with their SNAP card they receive $20 worth; essentially, they get double the value for whatever they spend. The program was initiated in July and will last through the market season that will end in October. The Prescott Farmer’s Market operates on Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Olsen’s Grain in Chino Valley and on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon in the far parking lot at Yavapai College off Sheldon Street.

Beyond offering families a means to buy healthier foods, the program also is viewed as benefiting local farmers by bringing them new customers, allowing them to sell more product. A dollar spent at a farmer’s market generates $2.80 for a community’s economy, according to program officials.

National statistics indicate that less than 1 percent of SNAP dollars are spent at farmer’s markets, or with local growers, in Arizona.

In addition to this program, Prescott Farmer’s Market was recently awarded a $2,000 Power of Produce (POP) grant from the Farmer’s Market Coalition, one supported through Chipotle Mexican Grill.

This program is aimed at teaching children the benefits of fresh food, particularly fruits and vegetables. Prescott Farmer’s Market was one of 20 nationwide to receive this grant.

The grant allows the market to offer targeted children’s activities, including food tastings, art projects and scavenger hunts, and all children who participate are given $5 vouchers to spend at the market each week. All of the activities are conducted at the market’s Education Booth.

For more information about the Double Up Food Bucks AZ program, visit the website: www.doubleupfoodbucksarizona.org

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