cobblestone food access program

The Cobblestone Farmers Market recognizes that the current food system does not provide equal access to healthy foods. Many of our neighborhoods lack access to nutrient dense foods like fresh fruits and vegetables due to unavailability, high cost and limited transportation options. CFM’s mission is to increase access for all to local, sustainably grown food and to grow our regional food economy through a nurturing and thriving marketplace. The Cobblestone Food Access Program (FAP) was created specifically to provide easier access for individuals and families on SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) and WIC FMNP (Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) to fresh, local food at the market.

In response to further reducing barriers, CFM identified the need for the FAP to grow more deeply outside of the Saturday market. The solution was to create a summer weekday pilot market, in partnership with the Forsyth County WIC Department, in 2016.

The weekday market is located at the WIC office where individuals receive their WIC FMNP vouchers, reducing the transportation barrier for many program participants. At the summer weekday market and the Saturday market, WIC FMNP vouchers are matched dollar-for-dollar and SNAP participants receive an additional $5 in market tokens per market thanks to community support. This pilot market increases the use of WIC FMNP and SNAP/EBT by 30-40% onsite and provides confidence for clients to come to the Saturday market for a greater variety of product. The total match each year ranges from $6-10,000. Due to delays and challenges of the government shutdown in early 2019, we anticipate that this year’s match will well exceed $10,000.

SNAP offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families. SNAP does offer food support but also includes some limitations. The Cobblestone Food Access Program makes fresh, local produce affordable to low-income families. Fruit and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet but they cost more per calorie than most processed foods. Families on a tight food budget are often unable to afford enough nutrient dense foods for optimum health and have little opportunity to eat local foods. The Cobblestone FAP makes SNAP dollars go farther by making local and sustainable produce more accessible to people with limited income and limited food choices.

The WIC FMNP voucher program is a state issued subsidy to young mothers for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers market. The barriers for using these vouchers are many with the top two being that (1) markets must be approved to accept WIC and (2) transportation to visit the market can be difficult. Cobblestone is one of two markets in Forsyth County who accept WIC and the ONLY one to provide a one-to-one match with market currency which translates into greater buying power and access to all products at the market that accept SNAP/EBT, particularly meats, cheeses, baked goods and other edible items that may otherwise be inaccessible financially.

Greater food access for all and the acceptance of the federal program SNAP/EBT and the state funded WIC FMNP vouchers has been a top priority for CFM since its inception seven years ago. The market has provided a modest match for both programs which is raised annually through donations and sales of market merchandise such as tote bags, travel mugs and t-shirts.

Learn more about how you can support the Cobblestone Farmers Market Food Access Program.

Do you have SNAP/EBT or WIC FMNP vouchers? Visit this page for information on how to use them at market.