May 2—Patrons of the Hall County Farmers Market will have an additional means of bringing home their favorite farm-fresh produce this season.
Through a recent partnership with Wholesome Wave Georgia, a nonprofit connecting individuals in need with fresh, healthy and locally grown food choices, the Hall County Farmers Market is now a participant in the Georgia Fresh for Less program, meaning that market items can now be purchased with federal food assistance benefits for twice the value.
Come opening day — Tuesday, May 9 — patrons will be able to swipe their EBT cards with a market staffer to receive EBT tokens to spend on select items. For a $10 swipe, EBT card holders will receive $20 in tokens: $10 in fruit and vegetable tokens and $10 to spend on other grocery items such as meat, honey, jams and jellies, with the exception of prepared foods.
Senior citizens who receive Georgia Senior SNAP program are also eligible for the program.
For Hall County Farmers Market board member and treasurer Chris Arrington, introducing the new offering has been in the works for about three and a half years.
The idea, she said, is to bring shoppers to the market who may otherwise feel intimidated by farmers markets.
"There sometimes is a stigma attached to getting food stamps; our job is to make them not feel that way," Arrington said. "We're not just looking at people who are down on their luck, so to speak — a lot of people are on a fixed income and need that additional help."
According to Wholesome Wave Georgia, by increasing accessibility to healthy, nourishing choices for Georgia families experiencing food insecurity, the Georgia Fresh for Less program has increased fresh produce consumption for 80% of its surveyed participants.
"Georgia Fresh For Less is rooted in Wholesome Wave Georgia's mission, which is to increase access to fresh, healthy, local food," Wholesome Wave Georgia Executive Director Will Sellers stated in a news release. "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 nutritious choices affordable for all of Georgia's families."
Starting May 9, the Hall County Farmers Market's summer market will run 2:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays through September before lapsing into the winter market in October.