The Old Town Farmer’s Market is now participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps.
The new program at the market will allow eligible customers to purchase fresh vegetables, meats, fish, baked good, jams and other items beginning April 27.
The city received a $1,200 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase technology allowing the program at the market and to cover the cost of transaction fees during the first year, according to city Director of General Services Jeremy McPike.
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“It’s a great opportunity to open up more access to healthy foods, and we’re going to do everything we can to help provide that access,” McPike said, adding that the city worked with the local Health Department and the Alexandria Obesity Child Action Network on the project.
A booth will be set up in Market Square for SNAP participants, who will request coin-like tokens there that they can spend with select vendors.
The customers will then purchase goods such as milk or vegetables from a vendor, who will take the tokens and at the end of the market day turn them into the city. In return, the city will reimburse the vendors.
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Participants should note that no change is given from a market vendor so program organizers advise residents to bring small change. For example, if a loaf of bread costs $3.10, the vendor will not be able to return 90 cents to the purchaser if that buyer uses a $4 token. Tokens are available in denominations as low as $1.
McPike said city staff and vendors are now well trained on the new program and questions can also be directed to the SNAP booth staffers.
The Four Mile Run market located just off Mt. Vernon Avenue in Arlandria was the first market in Alexandria or Arlington County to employ SNAP.