FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 03/24/2022
Contact: Crystal Stafford
Food Access Coordinator
Duffield, VA, 03/22/2022 – Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD) is increasing food access and supporting local small businesses by growing the Virginia Fresh Match (VFM) network through financial incentives, training, technical support and more. Farmers markets and retailers in Wise, Dickenson, Russell, Lee, Smyth, Grayson, Carrol, Wythe, Bland, Tazewell, Buchanan, Scott and Washington Counties in Virginia that currently sell or who are interested in selling fresh fruits and vegetables are encouraged to inquire by emailing Crystal Stafford, Food Access Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (276) 623-1121.
As a subrecipient and VFM network member under Roanoke, Virginia’s Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), Appalachian Sustainable Development will strengthen and grow nutrition incentive programs at community-based food and small format general stores in Southwestern Virginia. VFM will partner with 10 regional food access organizations and grow the network to over 160 outlets providing community access for SNAP and incentives. VFM incentives will provide access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP families in the region, promote regional farmers and support strong, resilient communities. VFM will also drive foot traffic to increase nutrition incentive use at partner sites, expand the number of retail outlets. To support this effort, ASD will work with and provide a host of supporting resources to these partners through June 30, 2023:
“We want to help more families who use SNAP to have access to fresh, healthy produce. We also want to support farmers markets and small general stores as a way to help local economies. Business owners and farmers that participate in this program will get additional income for participating. That’s good for them and good for the families we serve. As we sign up more partners in Southwest Virginia this season, we’ll help increase food access”, comments Crystal Stafford, Food Access Coordinator.
Virginia’s high rates of food insecurity have grown from 12.5% to 22.4% during the pandemic and overwhelmingly impact children, seniors and people of color in rural and urban areas. Lack of equitable access (proximity, affordability, knowledge) to fruits and vegetables leads to below recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables The consumption of fruits and vegetables is tied to better health outcomes and lowers the risk of chronic health conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. While essential to a healthy diet, fresh fruits and vegetables are often out of reach for families who have limited incomes. The statewide VFM network works with retail food outlets including farmers markets, mobile markets, CSAs, farm stands and neighborhood grocery stores to double the value of SNAP-EBT and Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) and help individuals and families take home more fruits and vegetables.
In August 2021, LEAP (on behalf of the Virginia Fresh Match nutrition incentive network), was awarded a 3-year, $2.2 million Gus Covid Relief and Response grant. This funding will address the critical food security needs of Virginia’s low-income communities, enhance the resilience of food systems during the pandemic, and increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps).
About Appalachian Sustainable Development (ASD)
Living Better. Locally. It’s what drives ASD’s commitment to propel its mission to build a thriving regional food and agriculture system that creates healthy communities, respects the planet, and cultivates profitable opportunities for Appalachians. Since 1995, ASD has been working in Central Appalachia, providing hope, and making a difference for the people who call the region home. What began as opportunities for struggling tobacco farmers to grow fruits and vegetables have become lasting solutions to regional challenges that impact economic development, workforce development, food access, health, and wellness. Over the years, ASD has expanded its reach from northeast TN and southwest VA to include partners in WV, OH and KY, enabling the organization to bring resources back to the region. For more information, visit: https://asdevelop.org.
# # #