Monroe Farmers Market doubles value of food assistance benefits

Press release from Monroe Farmers Market

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Farmers Market offers “Georgia Fresh for Less,” increasing access to fresh, local food.

Monroe, GA — The Monroe Farmers Market is partnering with Wholesome Wave Georgia, a nonprofit that works to increase access to local, fresh, food to offer Georgia Fresh for Less – a program that has incentivized thousands of Georgians to spend more than $2 million on local produce since 2009. This market season, the Monroe Farmers Market is one of 67 producer-only farmers markets and direct marketing farms throughout Georgia that will sell their produce to federal nutrition assistance beneficiaries* who will receive twice the value for their benefits through Georgia Fresh for Less.

To participate in Georgia Fresh for Lees, Georgians with food assistance benefits need only show up, swipe their EBT cards with a market staffer in exchange for tokens, and shop. Shoppers receive tokens worth twice as much as the amount of money they debited on their card. A $10 swipe equals $20 in tokens, for instance, to spend on market items. The Monroe Farmers Market, located at Court Street in Downtown Monroe is open every Saturday, starting May 12 – Nov. 17, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Georgia Fresh for Less enables us to connect with people that might normally be intimidated by farmers markets,” said Marc Hammes, marketing manager. “When they see they can get twice as much food for the same amount of money they spend at grocery stores, not only do they appear more comfortable being here, they tell us that they are encouraged to include more produce in their diet.”

By increasing the affordability of farmers markets, Georgia Fresh for Less makes nourishing choices accessible for Georgia’s food-insecure families and promotes healthy eating habits. According to Wholesome Wave Georgia, 78 percent of program participants surveyed in 2017 said they increased their produce consumption.

Additionally, by bringing shoppers to the farmers market who may not have gone otherwise, Georgia Fresh for Less helps more Georgians connect with fresh food growers, which strengthens local communities and pumps money back into those communities. In the same survey, nearly 90 percent of program participants surveyed reported an increase in farmers market visits since using the program.. This collective increase has contributed more than $2 million to the state’s food economy since 2009.

“Georgia Fresh for Less is rooted in Wholesome Wave Georgia’s mission, which is to increase access to fresh, healthy, local food,” said Sara Berney, executive director of Georgia Wholesome Wave. “Typically, the less money the consumer has to spend, the more likely choices are made based on price, rather than nutritional value. Our program makes nutritional choices affordable for all of Georgia’s families.”

* The meaning of “federal nutrition assistance benefits” is synonymous with SNAP/food stamps, EBT, and WIC, in most cases.

About Wholesome Wave Georgia

Wholesome Wave Georgia believes that all Georgians should have access to fresh, wholesome and locally grown food. Founded in 2009, WWG strives to strengthen local food communities by empowering networks of farmers to facilitate access to and awareness of healthy food choices. By increasing the affordability of healthy, locally grown foods, WWG makes healthy, nourishing choices accessible for Georgia’s food insecure population. WWG realizes its mission through two core programs: Georgia Fresh For Less and the Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program. More information is at www.wholesomewavegeorgia.org.

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