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Great Health Divide: Alexandria Farmers Market match program doubles shopping experience for SNAP recipients

This year, the farmers market is on course to make $14,000 from SNAP benefits.
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 3:50 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2021 at 7:28 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - In Rapides Parish, almost 20 percent of the population is on the Supplemental Nutrition Program, or SNAP, which limits where you can shop, especially for healthy foods.

Things like fresh food from a local farmer’s market were out of the question for SNAP recipients, until now.

For all of us, looking for healthy produce can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, but there are more farmers than you may think right here in Central Louisiana.

“If you talk to most people in town, they’re like I know a farmer who I can get this from,” said Audrey Kolde, Farm to Market Director at Louisiana Central, and the face behind the Alexandria Farmers Market.

In Rapides Parish alone, there are a number of farmers markets in Alexandria and Pineville, and now, the Alexandria Farmers Market is making sure products from farmers are available to everyone.

“Our market has a SNAP program, so we accept SNAP and we even match it up to $20 dollars,” said Kolde.

It’s as simple as swiping your SNAP / EBT card.

“At our Alexandria Farmer’s Market, we’re lucky enough that we get to reimburse them the day of,” Kolde said. “So we take it at the welcome booth, the yellow tent, and we swipe it and give you some Monopoly money.”

With the new match program, the farmers market will match anything at the market, dollar to dollar, for up to 20 dollars.

“We’ll take $20, match $20, we have $40 to spend at the market and that helps us out,” said Kolde.

They also accept farmers market nutrition coupon books for low-income seniors.

“They can buy produce from vendors, then we give them some bonus dollars to get a little more for them and it, right now it’s ten dollars and whenever people hear that, they’re like oh my gosh yes, ten more dollars makes a huge difference in me buying groceries,” Kolde said.

On average, Kolde says 20 to 25 people come through the market using SNAP. This year alone, she says the market is on course to make $14,000 from SNAP benefits, something that helps farmers more than you may think.

“Depending on the time of year and everything, we have varying amounts that come in, but SNAP is something that maintains us. People come and they use their SNAP and it’s a good baseline to make sure that we’re making ends meet as a farmer,” said Kolde.

At the end of the day, it’s all about supporting local and building up our Central Louisiana economy.

“Produce from our market, it’s harvested either that day or the day before and not only, they can tell you where that produce, you know how they treated it, if they sang to it because they put so much love into every single thing they bring to the market,” said Kolde.

Let’s be honest, you just can’t beat that farmers market experience.

“To be able to talk to a farmer and be like, oh my goodness, you’re growing food in my neighborhood,” Kolde said. “You know, it’s so phenomenal. You know, I know you, you know me, we know our families.”

The Pineville Farm Stand is also working on accepting SNAP and EBT benefits.

The Alexandria Farmers Market meets every Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. at 2727 Jackson Street.

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