More than 38 million adults and children in the United States are going hungry. In Iowa, 1 in 11 Iowans face hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the nation’s largest anti-hunger federal program. It fights poverty by improving access to affordable and nutritious food. SNAP allows individuals and families with limited income to buy food. It can also be used to buy seeds and plants to grow food.
People can use SNAP benefits at grocery stores, convenience stores, and even farmers markets, bit.ly/3B6xYdc! Farmers markets sell fresh, local produce that help you enjoy the taste of summer.
If you need help completing the online or paper application, you may contact your local DHS office. You can also call the Iowa SNAP Hotline, 855-944-3663, to speak with someone who can help with the SNAP application. The hotline is open 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Food Bank of Iowa, foodbankiowa.org
Food Security in the U.S., bit.ly/3sWyiI8
While farmers markets are a great source of fresh produce, here are some tips for keeping those foods safe:
- Choose produce that is free of bruising and spoiling. Do not purchase if the skin is broken, is slimy, or has soft spots.
- Go home directly from the market and store produce according to the fruit and vegetable storage guide, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/store-fruits-vegetables. The quality of produce will decrease if left in a vehicle for too long.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before preparing produce.
- Wash produce just before use—not before storing. Washing prior to storing will cause the produce to spoil faster. Before use, rinse produce with clean running water. Rub briskly to clean surfaces and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. Spend Smart. Eat Smart.offers more information about cleaning produce, spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/video/clean-fruits-vegetables.
- Wash reusable grocery totes frequently in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water. Clean all areas where you place your totes, such as the kitchen counter, to reduce the spread of illness-causing microorganisms. Store totes in a clean, dry location, not the trunk of a vehicle.
Eat Right, www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/separate/reusable-grocery-tote-safety
University of Minnesota, extension.umn.edu/farmers-markets/shopping-farmers-markets
Your local farmers market is a great source of affordable, seasonal produce. To stretch your food dollars even more, several markets accept SNAP EBT cards through the Double Up Food Bucks program. They will match SNAP bucks dollar for dollar to purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
Need help finding a farmers market? The Seasonal and Simple website, seasonalandsimple.info, contains a guide to help find, select, store, and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables found in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Recipes can also be found here for freezing, dehydrating, and canning all of your favorite produce.
Download the free Seasonal and Simple app for iPhone and Android so you can take it with you wherever you go.
Healthiest State Initiative, www.iowahealthieststate.com/resources/communities/double-up-food-bucks/how-it-works
University of Minnesota, extension.umn.edu