This summer the Carbondale Farmers’ Market is tackling hunger by participating in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Double Up Food Bucks Colorado.
According to Feeding America, nearly 600,000 people in Colorado are struggling with hunger, and about 180,000 of those people are children. One in nine adults are going to bed hungry and one in seven children do not know where their next meal is coming from.
To combat domestic hunger the federal government created SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, to help low-income families obtain food by providing monetary assistance. SNAP recipients can also use the money to purchase seeds or plants to grow their own food. According to the Colorado Department of Human Services nearly 456,000 Coloradans are currently benefitting from food assistance programs.
Double Up Food Bucks is a complementary statewide program supported by LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing obesity in Colorado, that increases the amount of produce SNAP recipients can purchase at participating farmers’ markets. Specifically, for every $1 of SNAP credit redeemed, Double Up will match up to $20. Therefore, SNAP users can receive $40 when they choose to shop at their local farmers’ market.
With the initiation of SNAP and Double Up, the Carbondale Farmers’ Market is now one of nearly 100 markets statewide that provide services for families in need.
Sara Tymczyszyn, the new Carbondale Farmers’ Market manager, is excited to launch the SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks program. After months of planning and foundation setting, Tymczyszyn says she is ready to take on the market’s next phase.
“This is the first year we get to have [SNAP and Double Up] in Carbondale. Ben Armstrong, the former market manager, did a lot of work behind the scenes to get this ready. Now we get to focus on advertising and bringing in more traffic.” Tymczyszyn states.
Like many markets around the state, fundraising is often a crucial element of market success. Since taking on her new leadership role, Tymczyszyn says she has “been seeking sponsorships and raising funds to purchase things like a tablecloth and signage to let folks know where the [information] booth and EBT machine is.” She also hopes to collaborate with local businesses by adopting package deals to support musical entertainment.
While the market will not be changing its date or time anytime soon, Tymczyszyn believes there is a “huge, untapped customer base” waiting to take advantage of all the market has to offer.
Tymczyszyn, who studied Spanish at UC Riverside, has been working hard to connect with the latino population of Carbondale.
“Carbondale is nearly 50 percent latino and it should be represented at the market.” Tymczyszyn notes.
Since starting in April, Tymczyszyn has focused on bilingual advertisements, has been featured on KDNK’s Charlando con Crystal to discuss SNAP and Double Up, and is constantly seeking new ways to make the market more inclusive.
In addition to attracting more Latino customers, Tymczyszyn hopes that SNAP and Double Up will draw more low-income families.
“On average, Coloradans who receive food stamps are provided $1.41 per meal or $4.23 per day […] which can make it challenging to purchase fruits and vegetables.” according to the Garfield County Human Services Department. Tymczyszyn anticipates that Double Up will address this issue by assisting with the cost of pricey produce.
“Food is typically more expensive at farmers’ markets due to the cost of labor and hands-on production. SNAP and Double Up Bucks are great ways to subsidized the cost so families in need can enjoy fresh, local veggies.” Tymczyszyn states.
Currently the market boasts five vendors who accept Double Up Food Bucks. For produce, SNAP users should check out Erin’s Acres, Borden Farms, and Rancho Durazno. SNAP credits can also be redeemed at some specialty vendors such as Roaring Fork Spice Co. and Vermont Sticky (delicious maple syrup).
Tymczyszyn hopes that with the support of the community and local businesses, SNAP and Double Up will become a staple in the Carbondale community. Already at the federal level SNAP benefits are at risk.
In a statement released Monday, July 22, by DHS, “USDA […] proposed rules in the Federal Register which would change eligibility guidelines in Food Assistance programs across the nation.” After analyzing the rules, the DHS estimates that nearly 33,000 Coloradans, 11,000 of whom are children, will lose SNAP eligibility on a monthly basis.
According to the DHS, research indicates that SNAP has a significant positive impact on local communities by building economies, increasing high school graduation rates, decreasing healthcare costs, and creating an effective work force.
If these rules are enacted, the DHS estimates a monthly $1.75 million dollar negative impact on Colorado economies.
Additionally, families would experience an increased likelihood for crisis and would be forced to use more costly emergency assistance.
The deadline for public comments is Sept. 23 at regulations.gov.
If you are interested in getting involved with or donating to SNAP or Double Up at the Carbondale Farmers’ Market, contact Sara Tymczyszyn directly at info.carbondalefarmersmarket.com. Presently, the market will need support with a consistent, long-term volunteer to manage the SNAP information booth Wednesdays at the market. For more information on SNAP or Double Up Food Bucks, visit garfield-county.com.