Thanks to a UF/IFAS Extension-partnered program called Fresh Access Bucks, shoppers who qualify for SNAP dollars have greater access to fresh produce and other healthy foods at the Englewood Farmers Market in Sarasota County. Fresh Access Bucks uses money from a Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services grant to double federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars up to $20 and in some cases $40, giving tight budgets a little extra stretch, allowing Florida families to purchase more fresh produce direct from farmers at their local farmers’ markets. In January 2016, the UF/IFAS Extension Family Nutrition Program, which manages Fresh Access Bucks in partnership with Florida Organic Growers (FOG), began a series of cooking demonstrations featuring Chef David Bearl, an American Culinary Federation-certified chef, at Englewood Farmers Market in Sarasota County. As part of the FOG and UF/IFAS “Eat with the Seasons” initiative, Chef Bearl gave demonstrations of how to turn local, seasonal, farm-fresh produce into healthy, delicious meals. In all, 24 farmers markets across Florida hosted at least one cooking demonstration in 2016. As for Englewood Farmers Market, their first cooking show was such a success that they continued it, hosting monthly demonstrations through the season.
UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones