Strong SNAP Usage Still Growing at Reston Farmers Market

Usage of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at the Reston Farmers Market has been strong from the get-go, but it hit a new high this past weekend.

“We had 32 households come by and use their SNAP benefits,” said Bill Threlkeld, division director for neighborhood resources at Cornerstones. “The high before that was 29, so we keep trying to outdo ourselves.”

A SNAP at Market Appreciation Day has been scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 12, at the farmers market. The free event will include activities for kids, cooking demonstrations, giveaways and raffles, music, demos and tours, VIP recognitions, and health screenings. It will also provide an opportunity for families and individuals to learn how SNAP beneficiaries are able to access healthier food options by shopping with their benefits at participating Fairfax County farmers markets, including in Reston.

The community is also invited to learn about SNAP at Market volunteer opportunities at the Reston Farmers Market, and about the financial support that is needed to provide matching dollars for the program. Through grant funding and donors, SNAP at Market allows beneficiaries to get up to $20 in matching funds for the purchase of fruits and vegetables.

“I like to tell the recipients it’s like finding $20 on the ground,” Threlkeld said.

This is the SNAP at Market’s third year in Reston. Saturday’s event has been scheduled as part of National Farmers Market Week.

The Cornerstones program at Reston Farmers Market has been the most successful of the four in the county, in terms of number of SNAP dollars spent and matching funds received, since it began. Threlkeld said $15,000 in SNAP sales took place at the market in 2016, and the program is on pace to increase that number by 30 percent this year.

“[SNAP at Market] is a real great opportunity as part of our mission, which is helping folks with basic needs,” he said. “It provides a great opportunity for those who are receiving SNAP benefits to use those benefits at the market and have access to some really great food, improve their nutritional habits and just be able to shop there like everybody else.”

For more information about SNAP in Virginia, including eligibility limits, visit the state’s Department of Social Services.

The Reston Farmers Market takes place each Saturday morning, from 8 a.m. to noon, at Lake Anne Plaza.

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