Have you ever found yourself singing the praises of your farmers’ market only to have your conversation mate say they can’t afford such expensive food?
There are so many answers to that statement.
In most cases, it’s merely a matter of priorities and grasping the real cost of agribusiness food-like substances.
But there are people who can not afford to share the bounty of farmers’ markets. That’s a tougher question, but in some cases there are starting to be answers. Our Dane County Farmers’ Market holds regular donation days where shoppers can buy and donate extra produce that will be distributed to those who need access to fresh food.
I just learned about four-year-old organization called Wholesome Wave. Their goal is to get good food to economically-deprived communities, especially those defined as urban food deserts. We all know what this is. It’s that part of town we don’t tend to go into with the boarded up shop windows and no green spaces. Most of us have never tried to shop there, but if we did, we’d quickly learn that there is no way to get fresh, healthy food.
Wholesome Wave works in several ways. They are working to create connections between the food deserts by combining private funds with government funding to benefit underserved communities and build the market for local farmers.
Their core program is Double Value Coupon Program, which doubles the value of Federal Food Stamps, called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) when these coupons are used at participating farmers markets.
I just read in my brother’s AARP bulletin that 68 percent of those who are elegible for SNAP don’t sign up. If you think you or someone you know might qualify, here are some helpful web resources that Wholesome Wave has collected for you.
- SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)
Visit the USDA’s SNAP Pre-screening Eligibility Tool here.
- WIC (Women, Infants, and Children)
Visit your state’s WIC State Agency. For a list visit here.
- WIC FMNP (Women, Infants, and Children Farmers Market State Agencies)
Visit your state’s WIC Farmers Market State Agency. For a list visit here.
- Senior FMNP (Senior Farmers Market State Agencies)
Visit your state’s SFMNP State Agency. For a list visit here.
There are a lot of states that are still blank on the Wholesome Wave map. If this seems like something you want to get involved with bringing to your area, keep in mind that Wholesome Wave is only able to provide funding for communities specifically targeted by donors.
If you are interested in launching a Double Value Coupon Program in your community and your community has not been identified by Wholesome Wave for a program, they recommend the following steps:
- Contact the manager of your local farmers market, or a local nonprofit operating organization such as Experimental Station, Human Services Coalition, or International Rescue Committee, and determine if there is interest to operate such a program.
- Contact your local Community Foundation or other funding foundation or group and determine if there is interest to fund such a program. If there is interest, contact the Wholesome Wave office.