By MELINDA WILLIAMS
SNAP recipients may be able to buy fresh, locally grown produce this summer at The Marketplace, Pulaski’s farmers’ market.
U.S. Department of Agriculture has expanded SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), to enable Virginia’s more than 240 farmers’ markets to accept SNAP payments, formerly known as food stamps.
Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Peggy White said The Marketplace has already received its ID number from SNAP. The chamber oversees management of The Marketplace, which is open at Pulaski Train Station 4-8 p.m. every Tuesday between May 20 and Sept. 16.
“We are looking into what we have to do … for the wireless terminal,” said White. The terminal allows farmers’ markets to accept SNAP’s electronic debit cards.
“The SNAP program is really about health and nutrition, and what better way to have fresh fruits and vegetables, and be able to support your local farmer, than to accept SNAP … at the farmers’ market?” Leanne DuBois, direct marketing specialist at the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, recently told Virginia Farm Bureau. “We have the capability through USDA to allow all farmers’ markets in Virginia to have a wireless terminal that can accept SNAP payments at the market.”
Recognizing the need to improve nutrition for low-income families, Congress is providing $100 million in matching grants through the 2014 Farm Bill to help local organizations promote purchases of local foods, according to a Farm Bureau report.
In addition to hosting vendors with locally grown produce and quality crafts, The Marketplace also includes area chefs demonstrating dishes featuring seasonal produce, music by local musicians and regional beer and wine tasting.
For more information on The Marketplace, visit www.pulaskichamber.info/the-marketplace.