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Market grant brings food help

The Oxford City Market recently received another tool to help provide fresh fruit and vegetables to low-income residents — 5,000 tools to be exact.

The United States Department of Agriculture, through its Food Insecurity Nutritional Incentive grant program, awarded the AARP Foundation a $3.3 million grant recently to implement a multiyear $6.6 million incentive program in Mississippi and Tennessee to increase the availability of fresh produce to those receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as “food stamps.”

The goal of this program is to increase the purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables and to improve nutrition and health outcomes for low-income consumers.

To do this, AARP is distributing funds to 31 local farmers’ markets and 22 Kroger grocery stores.

The Oxford City Market was awarded $5,000 to participate in the program that works on a 1-to-1 match. When someone purchases $10 worth of fresh fruits or vegetables with an EBT card at the market, he or she will receive the same amount, up to $10, to spend on more fruits and vegetables either that day, or they can be used during another trip to the farmer’s market.

“This is going to provide the market $5,000 to give to SNAP uses which means $5,000 into the hands of people in Lafayette County,” said Market Director Betsy Chapman.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved the agreement with AARP at its Sept. 1 meeting. The agreement is for one year.

The AARP Foundation will implement a marketing plan to reach SNAP recipients through a variety of channels, including mobilization of volunteers. Wholesome Wave Foundation Charitable Ventures, Inc. will provide training and technical assistance to Chapman and volunteers and assist with outreach implementation.

The market is open 3 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Nov. 24 under the big white tent on West Oxford Loop.

During November, the last few markets could be held indoors during colder weather. Check www.oxfordcitymarket.com for location updates or visit Oxford City Market on Facebook.