Temple Terrace, Florida-- Soft drinks, candy and cookies are covered for families on food stamps, but there's an added incentive for those who buy fresh, locally-grown, organic fruits and vegetables.
Sweetwater Organic Community Farm in Tampa is doubling public assistance dollars for for families who shop for produce at their Sunday Market. For example, families that spend $10, will actually end up with $20 worth of vegetables.
This is all part of a program started by Florida Organic Growers to make it easier for Florida families to eat fresh foods.
"We're really excited about having this program because we believe that everyone should have access to fresh, local vegetables," says Sweetwater Sunday Market Manager Andrea Harms.
Harms adds that Sweetwater's Sunday Market process for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer (SNAP EBT) users is simple.
A shopping guide lists the vendors who sell SNAP-eligible items. Fruits and vegetables, coffee, honey and breads are just a few of the products the program applies to, and they'll be clearly labeled at every stand.
As they shop, customers collect tickets listing their selections from each vendor, and at the end, staff-members use those tickets to add up the total, and charge the customer's EBT card.
It's an easy way to buy affordable health foods, but Harms says the Sunday Market is more than just a shopping trip; it's an inspiring and educational experience for the whole family.
"We think everybody should know where good, nutritious food comes from," says Harms. "Seeing the food growing in the ground, being able to touch it and smell it and taste it- [it's] really important to the whole process of understanding that food doesn't necessarily grow in a grocery store."
Sweetwater Organic Community Farm is open to the public every Sunday from noon until 4:00 p.m. in Temple Terrace.
Click here for more information about Sweetwater's SNAP EBT program.
You can find other local farms accepting SNAP dollars on the USDA's list of Florida SNAP retailers here.