Farmers' Markets Need Donations for SNAP Program

The Cherry Street and Brookside Farmers' Markets are asking community members to help them feed people in need in Green Country.

The markets are the first in Oklahoma to accept the food assistance program. That began in 2012.

This year is the first time organizers of the farmers' markets have sent letters to program recipients, making them aware of the "Double Up Food Bucks" program. Through private donations, the market is able to match SNAP recipients' grocery costs up to $20 per visit. The recipients must use the matched dollar amount for fresh fruits or vegetables.

"We're aware that so many people that are on food stamps and getting that support oftentimes are spending their money on processed foods, because their dollar just goes further that way," said Market Administrator Penni Shelton.

Shelton said the amount of SNAP dollars spent and matched has more than doubled recently. Last Saturday, market organizers ran $2,000 in SNAP transactions.

Private donors and foundations fund the Double Up program. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently launched a match challenge, pledging to pay $2,500 once donors give that amount.

"That's wonderful. It really is. There's not enough people that are willing to help others in the community," said shopper Rebecca Wright. She utilized the Double Up program at the Brookside Farmers' Market Wednesday. She said it helped her save more money than she would have spent at the grocery store.

Organizers said the program helps money stay in Oklahoma, because the vendors are all from Green Country.

They are asking anyone willing to help to visit the program's website.