The Blacksburg Farmers Market is reaching out to draw more people to fresh, healthy and local fruits and vegetables.
"This is an effort to increase the number of low income people shopping at our market, having access to this excellent, local food that's available here," explained Jessica Schultz.
The market has been taking part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, for three years and just this year, is doubling what SNAP customers who have little to no income can get for their dollar. "We double the value that people swipe for," Schultz said. "For example, if they swipe for $20, we give them $40."
Market vendor Jason Pall has noticed a difference in the number of tokens customers are exchanging for eligible food. "Our number of tokens have increased in the last year specifically, he said. "I'd say it's about twice the business." 250% according to market calculations. And SNAP shoppers aren't one time customers.
"They've all been pretty regular as well so we get the same customers week after week," Pall said.
Schultz says they're seeing more families sign up as a result which translates to more families purchasing and preparing healthy foods for their families using snap benefits. "It's been surprising, overwhelming, like really uplifting."
The double value program is paid for through donations and more are needed. Right now, the program is temporarily limiting what it doubles to $20 until the funds are replenished.