Farm Fresh R.I. receives $812K in food stamps support

SEN. JACK REED announces $812,000 in federal funding for a Farm Fresh R.I. initiative to make locally sourced food accessible to residents using SNAP and WIC benefits. / COURTESY SEN. JACK REED

PROVIDENCE – A Rhode Island initiave to increase access to locally sourced food for lower income residents has received $812,000 in federal funding.

The initiative, led by Farm Fresh Rhode Island, will help to streamline the processes allowing farms and farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamp benefits, as well as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

The fedeal funding, announced by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., on Monday morning at Farm Fresh R.I., comes as an increasing number of Rhode Islanders face food insecurity: According to a 2022 Rhode Island Life Index study, 31% of Ocean State households could not afford adequate food.

Of those residents, about 139,000, or 13% of Rhode Islanders, receive SNAP benefits.

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The federal grant will support equipment, technology and other supplies needed for 100 farms and 15 farmers markets to accept SNAP and WIC benefits, according to Reed’s office. A portion of the award will also go towards Farm Fresh R.I.’s Hope’s Harvest Program, which redistributes unharvested fruits and vegetables to food pantries and other nonprofits.

In a statement, Reed said that the funding “will ensure that Rhode Islanders using programs like SNAP and WIC can easily access and buy nutritious local food, while simultaneously expanding access to new markets for Rhode Island producers.

The supported programs, Reed added, are “a win-win for Rhode Island farmers and eaters, strengthening our local food economy while also increasing healthy food access.

“Being able to streamline technologies and subsidize farmer payments for these two important programs through this funding will help us continue to build a stronger, more resilient local food system that supports all Rhode Islanders in need,” he continued.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.

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