Rockford City Market sees rise in people using SNAP tokens

Mary Sugden, WREX

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, aims to help low income families put health food on their plates. It's a program City Market has offered since 2015. People can use these benefits on non-prepared food. Things like fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and breads. But last year, it got a brand new grant that helps people get more bang for their buck. "A link customer comes and buys tokens at the info booth, spends any amount they want," says City Market director Cathy McDermott. "But then the market, through this grant, matches, right now it's up to $20 dollars a day." So if someone buys $10 worth of SNAP tokens, they'll get $10 of free coupons. Those coupons can only be used on fresh vegetables and fruits. McDermott says it helps families stock up on fresh options while also helping farmers with extra sales. "It's a really nice benefit for farmers, to increase their sales and also for customers to get access to fresh, local, and healthy foods. So it's a win win for everybody." McDermott says the program has grown 74% in the last year. It's growth market vendor Chris Prchal, who owns Trogg's Hollow, says he knows firsthand. "I would say it almost doubles our sales when we are in a market that has that sort of thing," says Prchal. "Every market we've been at we've seen an increase in sales just because Link is accepted and then when they do matching funds it's unbelievable." He says while it's nice to have the extra profits, it also makes him feel good to know his produce is going to those who need it most. "One of the things we know for certain is that local food is more nutritious," says Prchal. "Because the sooner you eat it from being harvested the more vitamins it has in it."

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