Joplin Empire Market rolls out new SNAP token program

Empire Market starts taking food stamp benefits
Joplin Empire Market rolls out new SNAP token program
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As food insecurity continues to rise, a local group is trying to help those that get assistance make their dollars stretch.

The Joplin Empire Market rolled out its new SNAP token benefit program.

People that receive SNAP benefits can now use those at the farmers market to get tokens.. which can be used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables,.. or any other food at the market that isn’t made to be eaten on site.

The market is also participating in the “double up” program through the Fair Food Network.. that doubles the value of tokens they spend on fruits and vegetables.

Something officials say could help those who are the most vulnerable.

Ashley Micklethwaite, One Joplin:”We have some schools [in Joplin] that have over eighty eight percent of the children on free and reduced lunches. And having the Empire Market in a low income neighborhood, where our families can come and shop and get the freshest fruits and vegetables at a very reduced price is wonderful.”

Rodney Rambo, Exec. Dir. of Crosslines:”A lot of people don’t know, but at Ccrosslines, we have as many as two thousand people a month get assistance. And those are folks who are working, but having the food they need in the home can be difficult at times. So, to have this here at the Empire Market, man, it’s a huge blessing for those in our community.”

Ivy Hagedorn with the market says the program has been in the works since the market opened in april.

ivy hagedorn, Joplin Empire Market: “We have a lot of neighborhoods that are in food deserts, including the one that we’re in here between downtown and east town. There isn’t any good grocery stores that people can walk to. So now at least on Saturdays, people in this neighborhood can actually walk here, and use their food assistance dollars on very high quality local food.”

If you don’t use all of the SNAP tokens you get on one day, you can bring them back during a future market.

The market has also started letting customers pay with debit tokens – where you can buy for token’s with a credit card for use at the market – for people that don’t carry cash.