From our partners at Virginia Fresh Match:
Virginia Fresh Match Supports Families, Farmers, and Communities
As farmers markets and farm stands across the Commonwealth prepare for the start of the market season, Virginia Fresh Match, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and Local Environmental Agriculture Project are taking a moment to celebrate the achievements of the VFM statewide nutrition-incentive program and share the good work that will be coming from the network moving forward.
On Wednesday, March 30, at 10 am EDT, via Zoom (contact Virginia Fresh Match for link), VFM, VCE, LEAP, and stakeholders from across Virginia will gather for a recap of the network’s achievements and a look to its future growth.
VFM is a success story that began at the grassroots level and continues to thrive through support from local and regional partners. Since 2019, VFM has used a USDA grant to support thousands of low-income families and hundreds of Virginia farmers. The concept is simple: When recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) use their benefits at participating VFM outlets, their dollars are doubled for purchases of fruits and vegetables. This incentive directly supports Virginia agriculture — every dollar of SNAP and match goes from a customer’s hand into a farmer’s pocket.
VFM currently has over 90 partner outlets in every region of the state, including famers markets, mobile markets, farm stands, rural general stores, and community-based grocery stores. Virginia Fresh Match-related sales at all outlets totaled over $1.3 million in 2021, which represents a 90 percent increase over 2020 sales. This expansion provided needed nutrition for Virginia’s most vulnerable residents, essential income for family farms, and vital investment in local communities at a time of economic uncertainty and supply chain disruptions.
A 2021 study led by Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Family Nutrition Program shows the impact of the additional aid to SNAP participants:
- 70 percent of surveyed shoppers reported eating more fruit
- 69 percent reported eating more vegetables
- 85 percent reported that the match money helped them stretch their food dollars when they did not have money to buy more
In 2021, Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) on behalf of Virginia Fresh Match was awarded a three-year, $2.2 million Gus Covid Relief and Response grant (GusCRR). This funding allows VFM to continue addressing the critical nutrition needs of Virginia’s low-income families by expanding the number of outlets and nutrition-security partnerships. The grant also enables VFM to work with aligned organizations to increase its impact on nutrition security issues.
As local produce becomes abundant across Virginia, this is an opportunity to highlight a solution that is making these healthy foods available to all.
Contact Christina Nifong, Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) Director of Marketing and Communications to attend this virtual event
Virginia Fresh Match is a network of farmers markets and community food stores across Virginia that offer nutrition incentives. VFM nutrition incentives double the value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) spent at participating outlets. With Virginia Fresh Match, low-income consumers can afford additional healthy fruits and vegetables, local farmers gain new customers and earn more income, and more benefit dollars stay in the local economy. Learn more at VirginiaFreshMatch.org.
Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach partnership between Virginia Tech and Virginia State University whose mission is to deliver education in agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, community viability, and 4-H youth development in order to provide solutions to problems facing Virginians. The Family Nutrition Program’s role in this mission is to teach limited-resource families and youth how to make healthy food choices and become good managers of available food resources for optimal health and growth. Funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), their programs focus on basic nutrition, physical activity, safe food handling, and thrifty food shopping. To learn more about the Family Nutrition Program visit www.eatsmartmovemoreva.org.
Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP) is a Roanoke-based 501c3 nonprofit whose goal is to to create an equitable food and farming system which prioritizes health and abundance by supporting community initiatives, markets, farms, and farmers. To explore all the ways LEAP nurtures our food community, visit leapforlocalfood.org.
Director of Marketing and Communications