North Carolina State University received a $248,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fund a project to help low-income shoppers buy fresh, local food from farmers markets.
The “More in My Basket at the Market” program will debut in a handful of counties:
Five counties with high poverty rates — Haywood, Jackson, Mecklenburg, Moore and Richmond – were selected to participate in the program. In these counties, 35 to 52 percent of the population is at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
The program is designed to educate those receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program about how to make the best use of produce from local farmers markets.
Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agents in each of the counties will offer tours of farmers markets and provide education and food demonstrations. Each person who attends a More in My Basket at the Market demonstration will receive a cookbook with recipes for preparing healthy meals for $4 per person or less.
Currently, 40 of North Carolina’s roughly 250 farmers markets accept SNAP benefits. The grant is part of a $34.3 million initiative by the USDA to strengthen local food systems.