Montgomery Farmer’s Market makes healthy food more affordable for SNAP customers

Posted by Hollis Bass on Friday, August 11, 2017

Buying healthy food can be a challenge for lower income shoppers. This summer, Montgomery Farmer’s Market is making it easier for people who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to use their benefits to purchase items at the market.

banner about SNAP and produce perks

You may wonder why a suburban farmer’s market needs to accept SNAP benefits. When Kim Chelf, president of the market board, and Marian Dickinson, former board member, first brought up the idea a couple of years ago, the rest of the board was skeptical.  “They didn't really understand the need to accept SNAP in Montgomery,” said Kim, who is a health educator with Hamilton County Public Health.

Montgomery is a fairly affluent area,” Kim explained. “But 8 percent of kids at Montgomery Elementary are on free/reduced lunch and even more kids at some of the other Sycamore schools use the free/reduced lunch program.”

New board members like Ted Reilly (pictured below with Market Manager Gabrielle Ragusa) saw the need. “In a community like Montgomery, you have individuals sometimes who are almost too proud to ask for assistance,” Ted stated. “But things happen in people’s lives. Good jobs are lost or illnesses come up and therefore there is a need everywhere for the SNAP program.”

at market manager's booth

The Montgomery WeTHRIVE! team also encouraged the board to look into accepting SNAP benefits. The city of Montgomery awarded the market a “Service to the Community” grant, which helped to defray the upfront costs. Kim and Ted praised the city’s support, noting that Montgomery does not run or own the market.

The program has been up and running for a month now. SNAP customers use their Ohio Direction Card to purchase “Farmer Bucks,” which can be used to buy meat, cheese, poultry, dairy products, bread, cereal, fruits, and vegetables. Because the market participates in the Produce Perks program as well, SNAP shoppers also receive up to $10 in matching tokens that can be used to buy fresh fruits or vegetables. This doubles SNAP purchasing power for fresh produce, making healthy food even more affordable.

picture of produce perks tokens and montgomery farmer's market farmer bucks

“While there are plenty of retailers that accept SNAP in the area, we felt it was important that our market be open and available to anyone who wants to shop there, regardless of income,” Kim said.

The Montgomery Farmer’s Market is located at Montgomery Elementary School (9609 Montgomery Rd.). It’s open on Saturdays, 9:00am-12:30pm, May through October. For the most up-to-date information, visit their Facebook page

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August 4, 2017