Downtown farmers market returns with 'dollar for dollar' program for SNAP customers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Gray Street Farmers Market is back for its tenth season in downtown Louisville, and the market will again offer the "dollar for dollar" program for customers with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards.

Melissa Schreck, the director of external affairs for the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences, runs the farmers market.

“We’ll have plenty of produce, bread, lots of options for anyone looking for something tasty and healthy to eat,” Schreck said. "It’s sort of our community commitment to making healthy food accessible to all."

It’s located near all the hospitals in downtown Louisville, offering a healthy option for employees on their lunch breaks. But the market is also strategically located in an area of town where fresh grocery options are slim.

“We’re located right in the middle of Smoketown, Shelby Park, Liberty Green and Phoenix Hill,” Schreck said. “So those are the communities that we serve.”

To help families eat healthier and live healthier lives, the market accepts SNAP cards. And to make it even easier, they will double your money for fresh food.

Customers must go to the U of L booth at the entrance of the market to swipe their SNAP cards. Then, customers decide how much they want to spend, and the market will match that dollar for dollar.

“So if someone wants to spend $20, we can give them $20,” Schreck said. “So then it’s a total of $40 to spend with our vendors.”

Beth Fowl, who runs the Full Heart Farm, has been coming to the Gray Street Farmers market since it started in 2009. She brings fresh jams, preserves, cookies, breads, granola and local honey.

She said supplying local farm food to the market is a badge of honor, and she is happy more people can eat her healthier foods through the "dollar for dollar" program.

“Some of the farmers market items are a little bit more expensive than what you might get in say a discount grocery store,” Fowl said. “So when we can double the dollars, it allows people to buy something they might not be able to afford.”

Last year, U of L tracked SNAP customers spent $1,100. So with the matching program, there was a total of $2,200 spent on fresh food at the market.

U of L started a crowdfunding campaign to help keep the program going for years to come. If you would like to donate, click here.

The market shuts down the entire block in front of the Metro Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness on Gray Street every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. through October.

Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.