Forest City, NC – June 11, 2020 – In this time of instability, many of us are anxious and facing unknowns. Unemployment numbers are staggeringly high. Even before COVID-19 threatened our lives, the Rutherford County Food Assessment found that 22,678 residents of Rutherford County experienced food insecurity. Those numbers have only gone up. In this sea of uncertainty, the Rutherford County Farmers Market is striving to put fresh local foods in your hands.
“We have remained open throughout this pandemic in order to serve our residents with fresh, locally grown meat, dairy, and produce,” said Market Manager David Hislop. “At points, it was the only way to find some of these items. Grocery store aisles were bare, and people felt unsure about going into those shopping environments.”
In an effort to help Rutherford County residents further, since March 2020 the Farmers Market teamed up with Mountain Wise to offer double SNAP dollars. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) is a government program designed to help curb hunger by providing qualifying individuals with a monthly food supplement stipend.
Since March, the Farmers Market has doubled $500 in SNAP purchases, which means many families received high quality foods for perhaps the first time. SNAP users receive tokens at the Market Managers table, allowing them to shop without worry of being labeled or singled out.
Although the program is wonderful, the Market has been limited to $20 per household in doubling SNAP with the Mountain Wise program and the money spent had some limitations. “Produce was the only commodity covered under this program,” said RutherfordBARN board president Brandon Higgins, “so we set out to offer more options to support our community.”
Facebook answered this call. Through their Small Business Grants Program, Facebook awarded the Rutherford County Farmers Market with $10,000 to double SNAP purchases. “We are proud to support the Rutherford County Farmers Market and local access to affordable, fresh and nutritious food during COVID-19,” said Katie Comer, Facebook Community Development Regional Manager. “Rutherford County is home to our data center, our employees and their families and we look forward to working with our neighbors to maintain this strong community.”
In addition to SNAP purchases, the P-EBT (Pandemic EBT) cards are available for doubling. Every child enrolled in the public school system in Rutherford County is receiving this benefit in the form of a pre-loaded card. In both cases, stop at the Managers table to collect your coins before shopping.
The Farmers Market aspires to connect with more Rutherford County residents. “We are able to up our game,” said Hislop. “Until the funds are used, the Farmers Market will match SNAP and P-EBT money dollar for dollar. This money can be used on purchases including meat, dairy, produce, and food-bearing plants. We urge residents to take advantage of this unique opportunity and hope you discover our Market as your favorite Saturday morning activity.”
As of this Saturday, June 13th, find products that are SNAP & P-EBT purchase approved this and every Saturday including pastured pork and chicken, grass-fed beef, trout, eggs, salad greens, cucumbers, green beans, carrots, onions, potatoes, squashes, collards, peaches, honey, and food-bearing plant starters. Begin this summer with fresh, healthy and local goodness that is truly affordable.
About the Rutherford County Farmers Market
The Rutherford County Farmers Market t is a 501c3 non-profit organization open every Saturday from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. April through the end of October, and is located at 172 Park Square in Forest City, NC. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/rcncfarmersmarket. To sign up to be a vendor, please contact 843.597.3465 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.