Co-op to participate in LEAP, Virginia Fresh Match program to help with food insecurity

Friendly City Food Co-op celebrates USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement of $1.8 million granted through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program to Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), on behalf of the statewide Virginia Fresh Match network.

Virginia Fresh Match doubles the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits spent at participating farmers markets and grocery retailers. For example, a SNAP shopper purchases $20 in fresh fruits and vegetable and pays only $10 for them.

The 3-year federal FINI grant will support the continued development and growth of Virginia Fresh Match. This network brings together organizations ranging from small farmers markets to large local food nonprofits. The network capitalizes on the expertise of community leaders and builds collaborations between farmers markets, retail grocery outlets, service providers, farmers, SNAP consumers, and community partners.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s leading industry yet many families struggle to afford fresh fruits and vegetables needed for a healthy lifestyle. Applied as a food security strategy in many communities, accepting and doubling SNAP at farmers markets make fresh food more equitable and affordable. The FINI grant will support Virginia Fresh Match at participating farmers markets, expand incentives to additional markets, and provide opportunities to work with grocery retailers on incentive pilots,” said Maureen Best, LEAP Executive Director.

Harrisonburg Farmers Market is one of 80+ partners that will join Virginia Fresh Match in this project. Virginia Fresh Match will partner with Virginia Cooperative Extension and national nonprofit Wholesome Wave on technical assistance, programmatic support, and a robust program evaluation.

With the award from Virginia Fresh Match, Harrisonburg Farmers Market will assist with implementation and/or continuation of 2019 incentive programs at Charlottesville City Markets, Scottsville Farmers’ Market, North Augusta Farmer’s Market, Waynesboro Farmers Market, Broadway Farmers Market and Lexington Farmers Market as well as a retail pilot program at Harrisonburg’s Friendly City Food Co-op, with expansion to other markets in years 2020 and 2021.

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