By Natasha Anderson
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) has expanded its Double SNAP initiative to include eight farmers markets through the end of 2020. This program allows the markets to make a 100 percent match on dollars spent through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Double SNAP has made a huge difference for us and for SNAP customers,” says Dry Ridge Farm owner Wendy Brugh. “We’ve gone from getting $15-$20 in tokens weekly to getting $400-$600 weekly at A-B Tech Market.”
ASAP launched the program at Asheville City Market in 2019 and has continued it at the ASAP Farmers Market at A-B Tech during COVID-19. The program now adds East Asheville Tailgate Market, Enka-Candler Tailgate Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market in Buncombe County. Hendersonville Farmers Market, Mills River Farm Market and Transylvania Farmers Market are expanding existing SNAP incentive programs.
“Access to food and inequities in the system are major concerns for us,” says Mighty Gnome Market Garden co-owner Danielle Keeter. “We’re glad that Double SNAP creates an opportunity for more people to include fresh, locally grown and organically grown produce in their diet.”
ASAP is scaling up Double SNAP through donor and funder support, including the Pisgah Health Foundation, as well as partnerships with Mountainwise and Henderson County Partnership for Health. SNAP-eligible items include produce, bread, meat, dairy products, and plants or seeds that produce edible food. The organization is also extending access to local food through Appalachian Farms Feeding Families. This new program connects food relief sites directly with farms and subsidizes the cost of fresh, local food.
“These foods are much fresher than anything shipped across the country or even across state lines,” says Asheville Fungi owner Christopher Parker. “The nutritional value is high due to less time in cold storage before the food lands on the plates of the market-goers.”
To assist community members and visitors in connecting with farms in the region, ASAP publishes an annual Local Food Guide. The guide, normally printed in early spring, is available this year in an abridged form to account for COVID-19-related changes.
“So many of the farms, farmers markets, restaurants and other businesses working within the local food system have had to change their operations,” says Hart. “We didn’t want to print information submitted prior to the pandemic.”
This year’s print guide features stories from farmers about how they have adapted to COVID-19; listings for farmers markets; and listings for farms that are still offering on-farm experiences, such as u-pick, farm stands or lodging. The Local Food Guide is available at farmers markets, farm stands, partner businesses and other community locations throughout Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachian region. There is also a digital version of the print guide at asapconnections.org/find-local-food/local-food-guide.