NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - One of the city's summer farmer's market got a visit from a state commissioner Tuesday who trumpeted not only what was being sold but how it was sold to promote the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) former known as food stamps.
"I'm really excited how our SNAP program is combined with these farmer's markets to make sure people have access to fresh produce. It's a win-win," state Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said during her tour of the market at Georges Road and Jones Avenue.
People who use SNAP coupons to buy produce at the market also receive up to $10 worth of Market Bucks each day they visit the market, and those Bucks can be used to make more purchases at any of the city several farmers markets.
“Accepting food assistance benefits at our markets has been important to us since the beginning," said Lauren Errickson, senior program coordinator of the New Brunswick Community Farmers’ Market. "We do our best to offer consistent incentive programs," Errickson said.
She said the market was founded was founded in response to a growing awareness of food insecurity, specifically the lack of fresh fruit and vegetable access in the city.
Johnson used the visit to highlight what state officials say could be potentially devastating SNAP cuts now being considered in Congress. Such cuts, Johnson and other say, would impact tens of thousands of New Jersey resident.
“SNAP is the front line of defense against hunger," said Adele LaTourette, director of New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition. The proposed cuts to SNAP now being consider in the House of Representatives version of the farm bill "would mean more hungry people in our state,” LaTourette said
“Food pantries and soup kitchens won’t have the capacity to meet the demand if these proposals go through,” La Tourette said.
State officials say more than 740,000 people in the New Jersey receive SNAP benefits.
“The Department of Human Services is committed to helping New Jersey families thrive, and SNAP is vital to our ability to achieve this goal,” Johnson said.