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SNAP Stretch program helps families save money by buying locally grown produce

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Anyone who’s been to the grocery store recently has probably experienced sticker shock. The US Department of Labor said food prepared at home now costs 10% more than it did a year ago.

Inflation continues to put a strain on families. But a program that could help West Virginia families stock up on fresh produce for less is back this year.

“You don’t have to shop for everything in one place. You can shop from farmer to farmer, grower to grower,” Capitol Market executive director Evan Osborn said of the SNAP Stretch program.

The program doubles the benefits on qualifying purchases for anyone using an EBT card in the market.

“Now if you have a child with you or you’re over 60, that’s going to triple. If you happen to be one of the unique circumstances that we sometimes see in West Virginia where you’re a big -family, so you’re a grandparent raising a child, then it will actually quadruple,” Osborn said.

Money can also be used to buy herbs or plants to grow your own food.

“A lot of parents bring their kids and let them spend the money on whatever vegetables they want,” farmer Andy Crihfield said. “Just like the plants in the garden, if they come in and the child likes the peppers, they allow them to choose several different types of peppers. It really allows that child to own this program too.

Osborn said that in the few years since the program started, SNAP Stretch has put nearly $150,000 back into the pockets of local farmers, allowing their businesses to grow. He added that it has also helped attract more people to the market in search of healthy foods.

“I love nurturing the community. I love helping people,” Crihfield said.

If you want to use the SNAP Stretch program at Capitol Market, just stop by the market office as soon as you arrive and they’ll help you get started. Capitol Market will launch this year’s SNAP Stretch program on May 1. It will continue as long as funds are available.