Check out the following press release from Spotsylvania County on October 13, 2011 or read Emily Battle’s Free Lance Star blog post about the Fredericksburg, King George, and Spoysylvania Farmers Markets receiving two USDA grants.
The Farmers Market.Co, a regional marketing coalition of the Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, and King George Farmers Markets, has been awarded two 2011 USDA grants totaling $118,400. The grants will support the Farmers Market Incentive Program, a token system that allows low-income families to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) cards at Farmers Markets in the region.
Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg, and King George Farmers Markets received a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant to build Farmers Market sales by connecting low-income shoppers with fresh local foods. The Markets also were awarded a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to promote consumption of Virginia-grown fruits and vegetables through SNAP EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer).
“We are building vibrant community Farmers Markets by increasing access and affordability of fresh, local foods,” said Elizabeth Borst, Spotsylvania Farmers Market Manager and Regional Program Leader. “Local investment in our markets has been leveraged to attract federal funds to further build our local food system, paying forward threefold by nourishing the consumer, boosting the farmer’s revenues and uplifting the community as a whole.”
The Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP) is designed to help improve and expand domestic farmers markets, roadside stands, community-supported agriculture programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer marketing opportunities. Locally, the two-year, $88,400 grant funding will build program capacity and support the $10 bonus for SNAP shoppers to buy additional fresh food.
For the Farmers Market Promotion Program, an additional Program Partner is the George Washington Regional Commission (GWRC), the regional planning district group serving five localities FMPP funds will be used, in part, to address areas with few, if any, grocery stores or nearby sources of affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) is provided to state Departments of Agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops, including fruits and vegetables. The $30,000 grant award will increase sales of fresh, local specialty crops to low-income populations in the Fredericksburg region. This year, The Farmers Market. Co was the only Virginia Farmers Market SNAP EBT program funded by the SCBG.
Program Partners include Quin Rivers, Inc, the community action agency acting as fiscal agent, Virginia Cooperative Extension, local governments, regional Social Services departments, and the community Farmers Market Boards. Wholesome Wave, a charitable venture, has supported the regional program by providing seed funding and partner support since 2009. Incentive programs significantly increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among food stamp recipients while providing an economic boost to local farmers, Farmers Market operators and surrounding businesses.
“The Farmers Market Incentive Program is a key way we have built on the current interest in local foods in our region”, said John Howe, Spotsylvania Extension Agent. “Through the alliance with Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and King George Farmers Markets, $50,000 in new revenue has been generated this season through SNAP, Bonus and Credit Card sales. Continued support for this program will ensure that more people can access our markets and that more family farms stay in food production in our region.”
The grants will enable more extensive outreach to low-income shoppers, many who are food insecure. The Fredericksburg region has an average poverty rate of 11.42 percent. From 2007 to 2009, SNAP usage in this area grew an average of 50 percent. $2.5 million in federal nutrition benefits is distributed each month to 18,745 people in Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and King George County
For more information, please contact: Elizabeth Borst; firstname.lastname@example.org
540/785-7271 or 540/845-4267
For County information: www.spotsylvania.va.us
Contact: Kathy Smith, Public Information Officer
Phone : 540-507-7005 or 540-455-8988