Opinion: Help keep vital food program alive (Charleston Gazette)
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on March 2, 2022.
What if you could turn $20 into $40? What if that money could improve the health of your family, giving you the ability to buy fresh fruits and vegetables while freeing up money to pay for much-needed medications? What if, at the same time, that money could improve the economy of your community, keeping federal money in West Virginia and supporting farmers and independent market owners?
It might sound too good to be true, but SNAP Stretch does it. SNAP Stretch was created through a partnership between the West Virginia University Extension Service Family Nutrition Program and the West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition. It allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to double or triple their spending power at farmers markets and farm stands. Formerly known as “food stamps,” SNAP recipients can receive one additional dollar for every SNAP dollar spent on fruits and vegetables. If shoppers are over the age of 60 or are accompanied by a child, they can receive an additional $2 for every dollar spent at selected markets.
Throughout the pandemic, SNAP Stretch prevented families from facing extreme food insecurity and lifted the stress of families not knowing how they would feed themselves. In 2020, SNAP Stretch was so critical that recipients depleted its funding by mid-year, until federal recovery funds replenished the program and allowed it to continue.
I’m honored to be working with my faith leaders and community, in partnership with MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, to get the word out on the importance of continuing the SNAP Stretch program. MAZON has been investing in and working with partners on the ground in West Virginia for almost 30 years to advocate bringing an end to hunger in West Virginia. SNAP Stretch goes a long way toward meeting that objective.