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Prince George’s County Receives $100 Thousand Dollar Grant to Improve Food Access for Needy Residents via Farmers’ Markets
-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Prince George’s County Department of Social Services
Contact: Stephen Liggett-Creel
Prince George’s County Department of Social Services to award funding to incentivize Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) spending at county farmers markets
Landover, MD (August 2018) –The Prince George’s County Department of Social Services has secured $100,000 in additional funding to help improve access for needy residents to healthy farmers markets’ foods. These funds will be used for the State’s Maryland Market Money (MMM) which is a program that removes economic barriers for low-income shoppers by providing a dollar-for-dollar match for purchases made using food assistance benefits (such as SNAP/Electronic Balance Transfer (EBT)) at farmers markets. By incentivizing spending with local family farms, MMM also invests in a sustainable food system and fuels the regional economy.
“Access to healthy food choices is essential to good health in any family. This grant will help us to provide more options for families that need assistance,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “There is no doubt this is a challenge in many of our communities, however thanks to the diligence of our Department of Social Services, more people will have access to fresh produce.This grant certainly does not solve the problem, but it is a very good step in the right direction. Although this is great news for the County, the real winners are the families and children that will benefit from this assistance.”
Prince George’s County boasts 15 farmers markets offering shoppers a wide range of locally grown and healthy foods. However, according to the U.S. Census, 9.2% of the County’s population live below the poverty level and approximately 42,000 households receive SNAP benefits. For these individuals, fresh market foods are often out of the reach and SNAP benefits are only designed to supplement food costs. By financially supporting MMM, Prince George’s County is improving healthy food access for its most vulnerable residents, by stretching the buying power of their federal food supplemental benefits and encouraging them to buy nutritious fresh foods.
“Partnering with our local farmers markets makes perfect sense as we continue our efforts to increase the opportunities for healthy food choices for our citizens who rely on SNAP and other supportive benefits,” adds Gloria Brown Burnett, Director, Department of Social Services.
Since the inception of the program’s implementation at the Riverdale Park Farmers Market, there has been annual growth in participation. In 2017 alone, the program has served close to 1,000 SNAP recipients with almost $10,000 in matching funds used to purchase fresh foods. This funding can support the same success at all of the farmers marketsacross Prince George’s County.
While it might not sound like much, doubling $5 in benefits to $10 can have a tremendous impact on shoppers in need. As an example, Maria, who lives in a neighboring jurisdiction, uses her SNAP benefits every week to buy fresh food for her four-person household. “The match helps my family eat healthier foods that we couldn't otherwise afford. It makes market shopping economical for us," she explains. By funding MMM, Prince George’s County is investing in farmers markets where everyone can access fresh healthy foods, regardless of income.
About Prince George’s County Department of Social Services
The Prince George’s County Department of Social Services (PGCDSS) provides an array of services designed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of at-risk children and vulnerable adults, as well as stabilize families. PGCDSS provides opportunities for residents to become independent, responsible and stable members of the community, by providing intervention services that strengthen families, protect children and vulnerable adults, encourage self-sufficiency and promote personal responsibility.