Franklin Tomorrow’s Get Fit program is partnering with the Berry Farms Farmers Market to bring extra freshness into the kitchens of SNAP beneficiaries.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) provides supplements to help families purchase nutritional food. Now, thanks to Get Fit Franklin, those with an electronic benefit transfer, or EBT, card can essentially double their money when shopping at the Berry Farms Farmers Market through what the organizations are calling the Fresh Bucks Double SNAP Program.
The way this initiative works is, when shoppers arrive at the market, they can swipe their EBT card at the information booth for any given amount — say, $5. Those $5 will then earn five beige, $1 tokens to spend on any of the items at the market and an additional five green, $1 tokens to spend specifically on fresh produce. So, for $5, shoppers receive $10, half to spend on fruits and vegetables and half to spend on anything else they might need.
Director of Community Engagement at Franklin Tomorrow Staci Davis said this is an ideal program for the organization’s Get Fit program because it achieves one of their main goals.
“Get Fit Franklin’s main mission is to be able to promote a healthy community to Franklin, and we do that by encouraging people to move more in a natural way, eat better and stop smoking,” Davis said. “When we knew that Kasi could do food stamps, we knew that could be a way to be able to provide access to more nutritious food, so it kind of fell into our ‘eat better’ category.”
Manager of the Berry Farms Farmers Market Kasi Haire said the market has had a similar dollar-doubling program for the past couple years, but the grant funding it ended last season. Thus, Franklin Tomorrow is picking up where the program left off.
However, Get Fit is putting a local spin on the Double SNAP Program by also partnering with the Franklin Housing Authority and the Transportation Management Association for this initiative, offering FHA residents free transportation to and from the weekly market.
“We’re partnering with the housing authority because we know that … the residents in this area are essentially living in a food desert,” Davis said, explaining that there is not a grocery store within a reasonable walking distance from the neighborhood. “Being able to offer them the ability to use their food stamps at the farmers market is just something that we definitely wanted to be able to do.”
Aside from a myriad of seasonal produce, shoppers can use their beige tokens to buy bread, eggs, pastries, meat and more. Haire said the market sells chicken, pork, beef and — every other week — lamb.
If visitors don’t use up all their tokens, they can take them home and bring them back the next week.
Haire said not only is this program benefiting shoppers, but it also benefits the local farmers.
“It’s adding a customer base that wouldn’t necessarily have access to the market or to that area,” he said. “Any kind of increase in sales helps the farmers, and it just helps everyone all around.”
The Berry Farms Farmers Market runs from 4-7 p.m. every Tuesday, and the season ends Oct. 15.
“We’re kind of treating this half of the season as a pilot to see how successful it is,” Davis said. “We’re hoping that it is successful, that we do have lots of people … utilizing the system so that we can extend it for the full season of 2020.”
One date to mark on the calendar is Aug. 27, when the market will hold a grill feast, providing shoppers with samples of the farmers’ grilled meats so they can try before they buy.
More information about the farmers market can be found at berryfarmsfarmersmarket.com.
Separately, Get Fit is also partnering with One Generation Away, which distributes carts full of healthy food to Middle Tennessee families. Get Fit holds cooking demonstrations with food samples at the organization’s distribution events in Franklin to show residents different ways to prepare the foods they’re getting.
Davis said they also provide recipe and information cards that show how to know if a specific fruit or vegetable is fresh.
“On the back of it, it shows four to five different ways to prepare (the vegetable),” she said. “That way, you’re not constantly just roasting or constantly just steaming — there’s variety you can have with your vegetables. So, we’re providing those little recipe cards that are quick and easy — four ingredients or less — that you can do with minimum amount of equipment in the kitchen.”
More information about One Generation Away can be found at onegenaway.com.
To find out more about how to get involved with Franklin Tomorrow and the Get Fit Franklin program, visit franklintomorrow.org.