PORTLAND -- Farmers markets are going strong this time of year, and so is a program that gives people who use food stamps a good incentive to shop for fresh food.
The nonprofit Fresh Exchange program has been around for a few years at some markets, like the one in the Buckman neighborhood. But now there are plans to expand it to more farmers markets in the metro area.
Under the exchange program, people who have the Oregon Trail card get a five dollar match for the first five dollars they spend. The money comes in the form of tokens that people use to buy fresh produce and other foods.
Since 2009, the program has given about $80,000, five dollars at a time. And during that time, 150,000 food stamp dollars have been spent at the market.
Portland Farmers Market spokeswoman Trudy Toliver said it’s helping people who don't have a lot of money to eat healthier.
“We are spreading the wealth around the community and the community is responding,” she said. “People are still very much in need and they are very appreciative, they’re getting to eat a lot more fresh vegetables.”
The Portland Farmers Market organization runs eight markets and four of them honor the Fresh Exchange five dollar match so far.