WEST FRANKFORT — Food Works will roll out its Link Match Program Tuesday at the West Frankfort Farmers Market for recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. The market runs from 3 to 6 p.m. behind West Frankfort Aquatic Center.
The Link Match Program allows customers to use their Link card to purchase food at the farmers market and provides matching coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables. For every dollar a customer spends with their Link card, they also receive a $1 Link match coupon that can be used at any Illinois farmers market that participates in the program.
For example, a customer who pays $10 with their Link card at the market will receive $20 in coupons to be used at the market. Customers can get up to $25 worth of free fruits and vegetables each week.
Each market has its own way of using LINK Up Illinois Link Match Coupons, so look for the information booth at the market to learn more. Some markets use tokens, while others use paper coupons. Markets limit the total amount of coupons you can receive in one day, and coupons are only available while funds and supplies last.
“This program is so good for our community because it helps food insecure folks among us to access healthful, nourishing foods and it also supports our local economy,” Jennifer Paulson, executive director of Food Works, said in a news release. “SNAP recipients double their purchasing power at the farmers market, and when they spend those food dollars with local farmers, bakers and other small food businesses, they are supporting other local families, too.”
West Frankfort is the fourth market where Food Works is administering the program. The program is now available at five markets in Jackson and Franklin counties. In addition to the market in West Frankfort, they are:
- Benton Farmers Market is offering the program for its third year. The market runs from 3 to 6 p.m. each Thursday through October in Benton Community Park.
- The Humpday Farmers Market recently implemented Link Match and is seeing an increase in the use of the coupons for fresh, healthy foods. It runs from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays at 2421 W. Main St. in Carbondale.
- Community Farmers Market in Carbondale offers the program from December through March, giving families in need year-round access to fresh and healthy foods from Southern Illinois producers. It is an indoor winter market, held in Carbondale Community High School.
- The program is offered at Carbondale Farmers Market, which is from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday through November at Westown Shopping Center.
Funding was received from Experimental Station and Link Up Illinois.
Link Up Illinois is a program of Experimental Station, in partnership with Wholesome Wave and the Illinois Farmers Market Association. The program’s goal is to provide support for SNAP customers and SNAP redemption systems at Illinois farmers markets, farm stands and co-ops, through grant funding, training and technical assistance. In doing so, access to affordable fresh and healthy foods increases for low-income communities in Illinois.
Farmers markets and farm stands that operate a SNAP redemption system can apply for a Link Match grant that will match purchases of SNAP-approved items. Link Match may only be used for the purchase of fruits and vegetables sold at participating farmers markets.
Food Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable food economy in Southern Illinois. For more information, visit www.fwsoil.org.
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