Inova Health System’s Food Stamp Enhancement Program has helped many participants purchase fresh foods at Northern Virginia farmers markets with SNAP benefits.
In 2012 Inova matched $3,472 in SNAP transactions, more than double last year’s match, according to the Buy Fresh Buy Local and Food Stamp Enhancement Program year-end report. As of September 2012 there were more than 109,000 people receiving SNAP benefits in Northern Virginia.
Inova Health System is the only health care system in the nation to affiliate with Buy Fresh Buy Local as the sponsor of the Northern Virginia Chapter. Inova worked with five local farmers markets as part of the Food Stamp Enhancement Program, including Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture in Mount Vernon.
“Inova initiated a Food Stamp Enhancement Program to encourage food stamp recipients to purchase local, healthy foods,” said Bob Lazaro, community affairs executive for Inova Fairfax Hospital, in a release.
“We were pleased to work with the 4 Mile Run, Frying Pan Park, Manassas Farmers’ Markets and the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture Mobile Farm Market and Farm Stand to assist food stamp recipients stretch their food dollar and learn more about the necessity and benefits of a healthy diet," he said.
Inova also performed community outreach educating the community about healthy food choices. The education campaign includes a dedicated Web page, Facebook page and Twitter account, and seminars and events. According to a recent press release, as a result of these efforts, 88 percent of participants strongly agreed that the additional fruits and vegetables made a difference in their diets and increased their spending on fruits and vegetables.