Farragut Farms will begin accepting SNAP benefits at the Market in Petersburg starting this Saturday. SNAP stands for supplemental nutrition assistance program–otherwise, known as food stamps.
If you’re a low-income family or individual on SNAP, you’re making transactions with a Quest Card. It’s like a debit card for food necessities, but the options can sometimes be limited to make the subsidy last. Processed food is cheaper than fresh produce. The Farmer’s Market Quest Program aims to provide low-income people with healthy, local options.
Marja Smets (the owner of Farragut Farms) says that grocery store prices for vegetables can be expensive. “Especially here in Alaska here everything is getting shipped up. There’s premium price on it. So this allows people use those SNAP benefits to get fresh vegetables.”
Although farmer’s markets can also be expensive, the Quest Farmer’s Market Program allows for buyers to use matching funds. “The idea is for the first $20 that Quest customers spend on food items, or plants that make food, or anything that they can take home and prepare, they get $20 match to it,” said Beki Parham, an Americorp Vista Coordinator at the Division of Agriculture. That’s $40 worth of produce for half the cost.
Last year, the state of Alaska allocated around $80,000 for the farmer’s market program. Part of that goes toward matching funds. “So, if you can go to the farmers market and take advantage of the match day with your SNAP card, then you’re getting that nutrient rich produce and you’re supporting your local economy,” Parham said.
After spending the winter applying for the program, Smets is excited to be accepting SNAP Benefits. She says Alaska is a big state, and there’s only ten farmer’s markets that take food stamps. “The smaller cities in South East Alaska get left off the map sometimes as far as these sorts of opportunities go. So to be able to have an opportunity that’s only available in Anchorage or Fairbanks or Juneau, one of the bigger cities in Alaska, it’s pretty cool for local families in small Petersburg to get their hands on some local produce.”
Farragut Farms will be at the market this weekend.