Extension Helping Families Access Nutritious Local Food
Low-income families are getting more access to nutritious locally produced food with assistance from NDSU Extension.
Through a grant, Jan Stankiewicz, Extension community health and nutrition specialist, is helping seven farmers markets become authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and implement a Double Up Dakota nutrition incentive program.
SNAP is a federal program that provides nutrition benefits to supplement needy families’ food budgets so they can purchase healthful food. The Double Up program doubles the value of SNAP benefits spent at participating markets, which allows families to purchase additional fruits and vegetables.
“The process for farmers markets to become authorized can be cumbersome and confusing, and there can be quite a bit of associated costs,” Stankiewicz says. “The project allows the markets to walk through the process together, as a cohort of sorts, while receiving technical assistance and training, as well as capacity-building funding so the program is sustainable.”
“It has been frustrating every step of the way as far as the application goes, but Jan with NDSU has been very helpful,” says Heidi Ziegenmeyer, who is with the Spirit Lake Mobile Farmers Market at Cankdeska Cikana Community College in Fort Totten, N.D.
“I would have been clueless on where to start, apart from knowing I had to submit an application,” she says. “Jan provided training detailing the ins and outs of the application process, different considerations for choices we need to make to set up to accept SNAP, and details on how the Double Up Dakota program works. She has broken the topics into multiple shorter trainings over time, which has been really helpful and not overwhelming.
“This has been a great program,” Ziegenmeyer adds. “It kept me on track with my preparations and I wouldn’t be half as ready for the market if it weren’t for Jan, NDSU and the training I received.”
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