USDA Awards Tennessee Pilot Program $94,000 to Address Food Insecurity and Nutrition Education

Wednesday, September 06, 2017 | 4:41pm

NASHVILLE – Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) now have additional help to purchase local fruits and vegetables and receive nutrition education.   The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Appalachian Research Conservation & Development Council joined with several community organizations to launch the Appalachian Farmacy pilot program.

The pilot program is designed to improve preventative health habits and increase access to healthy food options for SNAP participants. The program targets SNAP recipients prone to health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity but also has a focus on the elderly and families that may be undernourished. A total of 140 families were recruited to participate in the pilot year. There are approximately 9,400 households that receive SNAP benefits in Washington County, administered by the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS).

The USDA awarded the Appalachian Resource Conservation & Development (ARC&D) Council a $94,000 grant to start the program.

“This grant encourages collaboration with state and local government, the community and the Appalachian Farmacy coalition. Providing additional resources to purchase healthy foods and nutrition instruction to help SNAP recipients can turn healthy habits into healthy lifestyles,” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes.

The Appalachian Farmacy program provides vouchers to SNAP participants to purchase local fruits and vegetables. SNAP participants were recruited at the Johnson City Community Health Clinic, Johnson Center Senior Center or Jonesborough Senior Center to receive $7 vouchers redeemable at the Johnson City Farmers Market, Jonesborough Farmers Market, and Boone Street Market. The program benefits SNAP participants and the local agricultural community.

“We’re excited to have reached full capacity with 140 families in the program as of mid-August,” says Lexy Close, program administer for the ARC&D. “During July participants redeemed over $4,000 at the markets and we’re on track to do at least that in August.”

SNAP recipients also participate in at least two cooking classes providing  instruction on ways to cook produce, nutrition benefits, food safety and tips on ways to store fruits and vegetables for longer use. The cooking classes are provided by the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health and College of Nursing, the University of Tennessee Extension Office, Appalachian Sustainable Development, and Mountain States Health Alliance.

For more information on the Appalachian Farmacy visit: http://arcd.org/appalachian-farmacy/ .

Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program at www.tn.gov/humanservices .

Human Services