By Cheri Bales
The 2014 Schoolcraft United Methodist Church Farmers Market will begin accepting SNAP food benefits this year. SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families and is the largest program in the domestic “hunger safety net.”
“What this means, is that area families will now have more access to fresh fruits and vegetables by using their SNAP benefits,” say market organizers. “We went through a fairly rigorous process to be approved to accept the SNAP cards; we hope to grow the program to include both the SSNAP (Senior Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women Infants and Children program).”
Many families in the South County area qualify for food assistance program benefits. Almost 19 percent of the population of Kalamazoo County is living at or below the poverty level, and, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy, school children qualifying for free or reduced lunch number 824 in Vicksburg and 238 in Schoolcraft.
Organizers predict that not all vendors at the Schoolcraft market will accept the SNAP card, but they are hopeful that vendors will see the ease and benefits of using the program and decide to participate.