An initiative kicks-off tomorrow that makes buying fresh fruits and vegetable easier for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients. It's called the Fresh Savings program. SNAP participants can use their EBT cards to purchase $10 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets and get tokens to buy another $10 worth. Coordinator Erin Smith is with the AARP Foundation.
"The availability of healthy food choices is layered on top of poverty. It's so great to know that we are offering this program to citizens that need it," said Smith.
Smith says SNAP recipients of all ages, can also buy $10 worth of fresh fruits and vegetables at participating Kroger grocery stores, and get a coupon for 50% off their next purchase of the items up to $10. Three-point-three million dollar grants from USDA and the AARP Foundation are funding the four-year program. United Healthcare Insurance added a one million dollar grant. Purvie Green with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce says it's-helping low-income families eat healthier and creating customers for farmers.
"We've been involved with the Department of Human Services for the last several years in getting access to more small farmers and farmers markets and getting more of those guys to be EBT retailers, and be able to accept EBT cards for SNAP recipients across Mississippi," said Green.
DHS provides the EBT machines to farmers at no cost according to Green. That gives participants the option of buying from a local farmer. Farmers markets in Jackson, Clarksdale, Copiah and Oxford have signed-on. Krogers in Vicksburg, Horn Lake and Clarksdale are participating. Organizers will add more in the coming year.