Indianapolis steps in to fund program helping low-income Hoosiers buy fresh, local produce

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Officials with the City of Indianapolis said Wednesday they will pick up funding for a program that once relied on federal grants meant to incentivize low-income Hoosiers to buy fresh, local food.

The Fresh Bucks Program essentially doubles the amount of money people can receive, who use federal SNAP benefits, to buy locally-grown produce at farmers markets across Indianapolis.

“The truth is too many of our neighbors in our city are food insecure,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

The City Market hosted a fundraiser Wednesday during the weekly downtown market as organizers continue looking for a long-term funding partner.

In the meantime, the city will cover the costs to operate and fund the program during the Original Farmers’ Market outside City Market. Other markets across the city have been able to secure funding.

“It raises awareness for food insecurity,” Paul Babcock said, the city’s director in the office of public health and safety. “We thought this was a great way for us as a local government to step in and really provide a conversation and a catalyst.”

Local farmers say the program is a win-win, not only for low-income Hoosiers, but for farmers as well.

“It’s a wonderful program with a lot of the other programs done throughout the state that people can get fresh produce,” Brenda Simmons said, who owns Simmons Winery and Farm Market with her husband in Columbus. “We were discussing it and I was like what happened with that?”

Organizers anticipate the program will be back in full effect at next week’s market.

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