As inflation drives up grocery prices, Columbia Farmers Market offers an alternative for state benefit recipients

COLUMBIA, MO (KMIZ)

Columbia Farmers Market holds its second Wednesday night market. The market offers local products, dairy products, meat, eggs and artisanal products in addition to ready meals from the food trucks on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. But for those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Columbia Farmers Market is also offering up to $60 in additional assistance.

The United States as a whole has been affected by inflation. Many industries, including agriculture and food production, are affected by the rising cost of fuel. The current cost per gallon in Missouri averages $4.53, according to AAAwhich is lower than the national average of $4.95.

The data of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the price of groceries increased by 10.8% over the past year. This is the biggest increase in food prices in more than 40 years.

When broken down by food type, meat, poultry and fish grew the most at 14.3%. Fruits and vegetables increased by 7.8% and dairy products increased by 9.1%.

In Missouri, a family must live below the poverty line qualify for SNAP. For a single person, this represents a gross income of $16,751 per year. For a family of four, this represents a gross income of $34,452 per year. The threshold is higher for people over 60 or disabled. Eligible Missourians can submit an application to the Department of Social Services online or by mail and may have to be interviewed.

According to Missouri Poverty Report13.2% of Missourians live below the poverty line, or approximately 786,330 individuals.

The latest USDA data shows 640,799 Missourians use SNAP in February. More $19 million Pandemic EBT funds were distributed in Missouri in fiscal year 2022 beginning in February.

Including the Columbia Farmers Market, there are 80 stores in Colombia where customers can use SNAP benefits.

Families using SNAP can register with the Columbia Farmers Market to receive tokens that can be used to purchase food. Recipients also receive $35 per market as part of the Access to Healthy Foods program. This is an increase from the pre-pandemic $25 game.

Those with SNAP benefits can also claim the Double Up Food Bucks to receive another $25 match. Together, those eligible for both programs can receive up to $60 in each market.

James V. Payne