Welfare recipients could get extra cash to shop at local farmers' markets

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by KMOV.com Staff | @KMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 8:40 PM

 (KMOV) – A Missouri lawmaker wants to give more of resident tax dollars to low income families if they buy fruit and vegetables at farmers’ markets.

Under a new proposal, welfare recipients could get an extra $10 a week. A sponsor told News 4’s Steve Savard this could cut down on obesity in low income households and help the local economy at the same time.

Sandra Moore is the president of "Urban Strategies,” an organization that helps low income families stretch their money and spend it on healthier options.

She said, “I think in its essence it’s a good bill.”  But she is concerned farmers’ markets are just not available in many parts of the city where low income families live.

“I am all for anything that helps get healthy food to low income communities as well as helps our local farmers,” said Brian Desmet who started working at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market in 2008. He currently manages the Schlafly Farmers’ Market said the markets don’t get much business from welfare recipients.

“All the markets have had minimal usage at this point, even the ones that have taken snap for several years,” said Desmet.

That’s something the bill’s sponsor, State Representative Jay Barnes said he would like to change.

“The goal is to improve the health and nutrition of food stamp recipients,” said Representative Barnes.

“At the end of the day we very much want to reward our low income families for eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Moore.

To be clear, this bill just calls for a limited pilot program to find out if it will work.

In the meantime, Desmet told News 4, he’s already working with five St. Louis area farmers’ markets to start a similar program using grant money or corporate sponsors instead of tax dollars.

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