VISTAs and low-income families can eat healthy and local, thanks to SNAP.

May 13, 2010 § 4 Comments

As part of the AmeriCorps year of service experience, VISTAs like Amelia live on modest stipends and often qualify for SNAP (food stamps).

SNAP benefits, a federal entitlement (not welfare) program, help low-income individuals buy nutritious foods, including food at farmers markets. In Austin, the Sustainable Food Center’s Downtown, Sunset Valley, and Triangle markets accept SNAP through the LoneStar card.  At the Sustainable Food Center’s blue tent, volunteers swipe the card in exchange for wooden tokens, which can be used to purchase food, plants and seeds.

Amelia shares her experience.


That day, Amelia bought a bag of arugula, a ball of fresh mozzarella, some baba ghanoush, and an eggplant seedling for her garden. “I used the arugula and mozzarella to make flatbread pizza with fresh tomatoes,” she said.

Relish Austin blogger and Hunger Awareness Blog Project contributor, Addie Broyles recently shared her personal experience with WIC, and conducted an experiment where she compared the quality of burgers made with generic, store-bought meat and local, sustainable meat.

The local, sustainable burger she made was juicier and richer in flavor.  She adds:

“When you’re on food stamps, paying twice as much money for local meat might seem illogical, but there are many ways to stretch the [food], and for many concerned with the health and environmental benefits of sustainably raised meat, it’s worth the extra cost.”

Federal Nutrition Programs like SNAP and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program are excellent ways for individuals, regardless of  their income levels, to support local farmers and sustainable agriculture. Every $1 spent of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in local economic activity. And several studies show that dollars spent on locally-owned business generate two-to-four-times the income, wealth and jobs of an equivalent non-local business.

Have you ever used WIC or SNAP benefits at your local farmers market?  How can our community connect more people – regardless of income – to local food?


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§ 4 Responses to VISTAs and low-income families can eat healthy and local, thanks to SNAP.

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