Data from the Coalition Against Hunger found that in previous years, less than half of the women used the $20 vouchers, because that amount didn’t buy much.
Women and children who receive food stamps from a federal nutrition program can spend more money this year at local farmers’ markets. Kerry Grens reports from WHYY’s health and science desk that the previous amount was too small to convince families to even make the trip to spend the money.
Stimulus funds raised the farmers market voucher from twenty dollars per year to eighty dollars for families in the women, infants and children nutrition program. Carey Morgan, the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, says the boost was necessary to make the vouchers worthwhile.
Morgan: We know that moms who maybe have one or two kids and only $20 to spend probably won’t travel to the farmers’ market to spend that $20 because it won’t go very far. But what we’ve seen through this program is a higher benefit amount will get moms to the market and it’s great for the farmers.
Morgan says farmers will receive about one million dollars’ worth of business. The increased vouchers were distributed in June, and Morgan says already the same number has been redeemed as were all of last year.
Donald Schwarz, Philadelphia’s health commissioner says health benefits should follow.
Schwarz: We know that access to fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important ways we can make a difference to obesity long term and in addition it makes a difference to pregnancy outcomes.
Women can cash in the vouchers through November, when the farmers market season slows down.