The Leesburg Farmer's Market on May 3 began accepting SNAP dollars, meaning low-income families can now use the means to access fresh produce.
In addition to being able to use SNAP debit cards, the consumer will also receive a matching $10 to spend at the market.
The initiative is the brainchild of Janine Rethy, a pediatrician with a master's degree in public health in community and preventive medicine.
Rethy served for two years as the director of community medicine at HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, where she directed the PALS program, a multi-disciplinary, community-based approach to pediatric obesity.
“As a part of this work and my service on the Loudoun Health Council, I wanted to find a way to increase access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables for our most vulnerable population. The model of accepting SNAP dollars (formerly known as Food Stamps) at the local farmers market has been successful at many markets around the country. This model has been show to benefit the health of the families as well as the local growers,” she said in a statement.
The SNAP program at the Leesburg Farmer's Market is the first in Loudoun County – the result of several groups working together, including HealthWorks for Northern Virginia, Loudoun Health Council, Loudoun Valley Home Grown Markets Cooperative, Loudoun County Health Department, the Community Service Board and others. BuyFreshBuyLocal out of Inova is also a part of the working group and is sponsoring the initial matching funds.