Farmers markets generally attract food-conscious crowds looking to buy fresh, healthy and locally sourced foods. Generally, though, the perception is that those goods don’t come cheap.
The Apex Farmers Market is trying to change that.
Starting Saturday, April 23, the first market day of the season, shoppers receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits – better known as SNAP – will be able to buy $10 worth of food for $5 of their monthly allotment of food assistance, effectively doubling their purchasing power.
The market is calling this initiative the “Double Bucks” program. Participants can swipe their EBT cards in exchange for, at most, five $2 tokens per week, which are accepted only at the farmers market.
Ann Kramer, a member of the Apex Farmers Market’s board, said rising produce prices in traditional grocery stores have made the produce available at markets like Apex’s more competitively priced than it has been in the past. She said the Double Bucks program is one way the market is trying to shed the upper-crust stigma attached to most farmers markets and make fresh, healthy food an even more attractive buy for low-income shoppers.
“When you go to SNAP or food banks, a lot of the time what’s available is processed foods,” Kramer said. “This gives people an alternative.”
Kramer said a donation “in excess of $2,000” through the Pittsboro-based Abundance Foundation is helping the market pay for this program.
The Apex Farmers Market was revived in 2014 by a coalition of food advocates; Kramer joined its board in 2015. They applied to be able to accept SNAP benefits then, but the time required to complete the USDA’s rigorous approval process meant they weren’t granted permission to do so until the market’s first season was almost over.
The market at 220 N. Salem St., hosts upwards of 25 vendors every Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. through Oct. 17. For information, go to apexfarmersmaket.com.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan