Proposed 2019 budget could cut funds for farmers markets, SNAP recipients

By Lezla Gooden - Reporter

ROANOKE,Va - Maureen Best is already helping needy families in Roanoke receive healthy foods.

As the Director for the Local Environmental Agricultural Project in Roanoke, known as L.E.A.P, she says the Trump Administration's plan would cut funding for farmers markets that offer incentive programs for S.N.A.P users.

In 2017, more than $840,000 was spent in S.N.A.P at farmers markets. About 110 farmers markets accepted S.N.A.P. 

“All that money, close to $400,000, stayed in the economy and it went to local farmers and local food producers,” said Best.

The proposal is called America's Harvest Box.

Half of the S.N.A.P recipients' benefits would be used to buy a box of food that the government describes as nutritious and 100 percent grown and produced in the U.S. 

The other half would still be distributed on S.N.A.P cards like it's done now. It would affect anyone who receives $90 a month in food assistance and roughly 38 million people.

The harvest box is said to cost half as it would if purchasing in retail value and will include canned fruit and meats.

There are many who are concerned about how fruit and vegetables will remain fresh in these boxes and how people with dietary needs will receive what they need. 

"There is no better way than to be a healthy person and have a healthy lifestyle than the food that you are eating,” said Marketing Manager of the Roanoke Co-Op John Bryant. 

“I hope they allow points of access for that and hope the program still will allow people to make some of those choices on their own,” he said.

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