Making nutrition affordable

Published 9:15 pm Monday, August 14, 2017

Though summer for school children is all but over, the season for local, farm-fresh food is still in full swing.

Savvy shoppers are lucky to have such an abundance of farmers markets and local produce for sale in most of Georgia’s major cities, and many of its smaller ones, but those options are sometimes not feasible for those that live at or below the poverty line.

In fact, more than 1.4 million Georgians are considered food-insecure and receive SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamp, benefits.

The high cost and low accessibility of fresh foods leave these 1.4 million with limited options to feed their families.

Summer is also farmers market season, and Georgia Fresh for Less is helping communities increase access to the fresh, locally grown food sold at the markets.

Formerly known as the Double SNAP program, Georgia Fresh for Less has incentivized thousands of Georgians to buy local produce since it started in 2009.

This year Wholesome Wave Georgia will partner with 60 different producer-only farmers markets and direct marketing farms throughout Georgia to offer Georgia Fresh for Less and double the purchasing power of federal nutrition assistance recipients.

The program matches SNAP benefits dollar for dollar at participating farmers markets, so consumers pay less for fresh and local food that is higher quality and more nutritious.

In 2016, $221,000 in SNAP benefits were matched, allowing low-income, food insecure families to purchase $442,000 worth of this healthier food.

By increasing the affordability of the farmers markets, Georgia Fresh for Less makes nourishing choices accessible for Georgia’s food insecure families and promotes healthy eating habits.

Also, by bringing more low-income families to the farmers markets, the program empowers the farmers to raise awareness of healthy food choices among diverse audiences.        

Georgia Fresh for Less makes nutritional choices affordable for all of Georgia’s families, supports Georgia farmers, builds community and pumps money back into the local economy.

Sara Berney is the executive director of Wholesome Wave Georgia.