Making healthy choices with our food can be expensive sometimes, but there are programs out there to make it just a little easier. Joining me today is LaCee Jimenez with USU Extension’s Create Better Health Program to talk about how SNAP education programs can help people.
Kailey Foster- One of the areas that snap education looks at is where people can use these benefits. So, tell me where can people use SNAP benefits for local produce?
LaCee Jimenez- There are a few options for people who receive SNAP benefits to help them access local produce. There are some grocery stores throughout the state that do sell locally grown produce and accept SNAP customers. They can use a USDA map called the SNAP Retail Locator, and they can locate different stores that maybe they already shop at, and some do provide locally grown produce.
SNAP recipients can even purchase seeds, and plant starts to grow their own produce. Another great option we have is community-supported agriculture or CSA. This year in Utah, there are about three CSA that accept SNAP. Then there are also 31 farmers' markets and farm stands in Utah that accept SNAP now.
KF- For people who may not have had access to this kind of food before, how are they confident that they are making healthy decisions with their food?
LJ- We have a lot of great resources through Create Better Health snap-ed. We have classes called Create Farm Fresh Food. This class looks at how to choose, use, and store fresh produce.
Sometimes there is a concern that food might go bad and get wasted. Some people may not be familiar with storing it, so we have classes, handouts, and resources to help people out. A great place to go to find out about his classes and programs is our website is called CreateBetterHealth.org.
KF- What other programs does Create Better Health offer that help people make healthy choices or even gain access to it?
LJ- In addition to the Create Farm Fresh Food classes that I mentioned, we have other online classes during the summer. We help people with something we call our Create Concept to learn how to take what foods they have on hand to create a meal from it.
In addition to teaching these classes, we also work with partners like the Utah Farm Bureau and the Miracle of Agriculture Foundation to support programs such as Farmers Feeding Utah.
We work with local food pantries with a program called Thumbs Up for Healthy Choices. This program places signs in food pantries so customers can identify which food options might be healthier for them.
And a great program that we have going through this summer that we have two versions of it. One is Buy Produce for Your Neighbor. And this is where we collect food donations at farmer's markets and take them to a local food pantry. And then we have another version of Share Produce With Your Neighbor, which is the same concept, in areas where there aren't farmers' markets, so people are encouraged to donate from their garden.