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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

VA group helps SNAP/EBT users afford fresh foods

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Friday, March 22, 2024   

During National Nutrition Month, groups like Virginia Fresh Match are providing people with healthy fresh food options.

Since 2009, the coalition of farmer's markets and mobile food stores has been helping people on SNAP or EBT get access to healthier foods. Some groups have found almost 24% of the benefits are used for healthy foods, while more often they are spent on sugary snacks, premade foods, and meats.

Elizabeth Borst, director of advocacy for Virginia Fresh Match, said everyone should have the opportunity to access healthy foods.

"Just making sure that people both have access to high-quality food and that quality food is affordable to them," Borst explained. "Fresh fruits and vegetables can often be the last thing that people will choose when they are on a really limited budget, so we want to make sure that is accessible to people."

The Consumer Price Index showed food prices drastically increased between 2022 and 2023, but prices have slightly declined in 2024.

Food insecurity has been a long-standing issue for Virginians. Hunger Free America's 2023 Annual Hunger Survey found almost 774,000 people in Virginia are food insecure. Borst emphasized her group is focusing on its "food is medicine" work to ensure no one goes hungry.

While Virginia Fresh Match has been able to accomplish a lot during its multiyear history, there have been some challenges. Borst observed one long-term challenge has been funding sustainability. Like the rest of the world, the pandemic presented a significant hurdle for them, though it created some interesting changes.

"We just had a huge bump in our redemptions and usage of the program," Borst stressed. "That really didn't taper off even though there's been a 40% decrease in SNAP benefit allotments once the pandemic emergency benefits ended."

Emergency allotments provided all SNAP recipients with an additional $95 per month, affecting 470,000 families across the state.


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