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SNAP Collaborative back for its second year

Alex Crichton

Five area farmers markets are participating in the Farmers Markets Roc SNAP Collaborative, which returns for a second year. 

SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is formerly known as food stamps.

The Friends of the Public Market operates the token program at the Rochester Public Market.

Program director Margaret O'Neill says people can use their SNAP benefits at the city's Public Market, South Wedge Farmers Market, Westside Farmers Market, Brighton Farm Market, and Foodlink's mobile Curbside Markets.

"Our SNAP token program allows customers to buy wooden tokens, which are just like money at the market.  The farmers can all take them and the farmers then turn them back in for redemption," she said.

O'Neill says they sold  a million dollars worth of SNAP benefits at the Public Market last year.

Token center at the Public Market

O'Neill says customers gain by having access to fresh, local produce, and area farmers like Phil Munson from Bristol says his farm benefits from people using SNAP.

"We're increasing our sales, which helps the bottom line, and makes it vibrant for us all year long," he said.

Patrina Jones of Rochester says using her SNAP benefits at Foodlink's mobile market helps her stretch her food dollar.

"I actually get more food when I use SNAP benefits than when I spend cash at a grocery store," she said. "It's a very convenient thing, to have some SNAP benefits for me and my children so I appreciate the help that I get."

Brighton Town Supervisor Bill Moehle adds that SNAP is not just an urban need.

"The food need really is everywhere.  It doesn't know municipal borders, and the SNAP program is a very important one for the Brighton Farmers Market, as well."

He says SNAP sales in Brighton were up 50 percent last year.

Here’s Public Market Director Jim Farr talking about the importance of the program: