Starting in June, food stamp recipients will be able to buy more fresh produce at the city's farmers markets and at two local businesses under a new pilot program.
On Wednesday, Bluegrass Farm to Table announced it was one of 31 programs selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to receive a grant of more than $45,000 aimed at getting more local produce to low-income people.
The pilot program, called Bluegrass Double Dollars, will allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, participants to get vouchers to buy local produce at three participating organizations: Lexington Farmers Market, Good Foods Market & Café, and Lexington Market East End.
People who spend as much as $10 of their SNAP program dollars for any eligible food items will receive a $10 voucher that may be used to buy fresh, frozen or canned local fruits and vegetables and even local herbs at the city's farmers markets and at the co-op.
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The amount at the Lexington Market East End will be capped at $5, and the voucher will be for no more than $5. Lexington Market East End is a smaller store, where purchases typically are less than $10.
"Bluegrass Double Dollars program is to improve the affordability and accessibility of local fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers, specifically participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," said Ashton Potter Wright, director of the Bluegrass Farm to Table program. "SNAP participants will have access to affordable local produce, and local family farms will benefit from increased sales."
Potter helped secure the competitive $47,250 grant from the Department of Agriculture. It will be administered through the Bluegrass Community Foundation.
The program is scheduled to start in June and will last until November, or whenever the grant runs out, Wright said.
Bluegrass Farm to Table would have an opportunity in December to apply for a second round of grants through the Department of Agriculture that would allow the program to expand to other sites, Wright said.
Bluegrass Farm to Table was started last year with a combination of city, private and state and local agricultural economic development funds.