Student helps start food stamp program at local farmers’ market

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NOBLESVILLE (May 13, 2015) – Another local farmers’ market is now accepting electronic food stamps to give low-income families a healthier way to eat.

The Noblesville Main Street farmers’ market is the latest to accept food stamps, now known as SNAP benefits, and it’s an idea that came partly from a Noblesville high school student, Courtney Christl.

“We were approached (by her) last year toward the end of the market,” said Chris Owens, the executive director of Noblesville Main Street, the organization that runs the market. “For her to have the insight at such a young age to provide this benefit was great.”

“It started with my Innovations class,” said student Christl. “It was just kind of coincidence that Chris and I had been pursuing the same thing from opposite ends… and we started working together from there.”

To qualify for the program, markets first must apply with the federal government, a process Owens undertook over the winter.

“It’s one thing to put on a farmers market on a weekly basis it’s another thing to go above and beyond and try to extend those benefits to families in need,” said Owens.

They’re also hoping to soon be part of the ‘Fresh Bucks’ program, which gives SNAP recipients the chance to double their money on fruits and veggies.

“Food insecurity has been a big thing for me because I know a lot of people that struggle with that issue,” said Christl. “Especially getting people to start eating healthy.”

Officials say it’s becoming a trend all across the country.

“Rather than complaining about unhealthy choices that SNAP recipients are receiving, we think it`s wonderful that more farmers’ markets and others who are providing healthy alternatives are making those alternatives available to SNAP users,” said spokesperson Marni Lemons with the Family and Social Services Administration.

“That is going to help that person work better and feel better,” said Christl. “It’s like a cycle, you know, if you’re eating junk, you’re going to feel like junk (and) act like junk,.”

And how does Courtney feel, after doing all this?

“It feels kind of unreal,” she said. “But I like it.”

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