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Mothers in Need Would Receive Farmers Market Vouchers Under New Bill

Missouri's Capitol Building in 2017.
Meiying Wu / KBIA

Pregnant women, postpartum women and children under age five could use federally subsidized vouchers at farmers’ markets under a new bill being discussed by state lawmakers.

Right now, only seniors can use federally subsidized vouchers at farmers’ markets. Rep. Martha Stevens, D-Columbia sponsored the bill that would also allow pregnant and postpartum women as well as children under the age of five to use the farmers’ market vouchers.

Rep. Randy Pietzman, R-Troy raised some concern about the money already being allocated for those under the poverty line, but critics say that isn’t enough for groceries and living costs.

Former representative Jeanette Mott Oxford, the executive director of Empower Missouri, formerly known as the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, said SNAP, supplemental nutrition assistance program, is not meant to be the only source of support.

“The S stands for supplemental. It’s a supplemental food program, it doesn’t buy all your food,” Mott Oxford said.

Stevens said the money would come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Women, Infants and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. That means the state wouldn’t have to buy the food, but there will be administrative costs. Stevens said the value of the program extends beyond the food it would provide.

“I mean I think when people go to the farmers’ market, they’re engaged with members of their community. I think that that’s something you can’t really put a dollar figure on, but I think it’s really important,” Stevens said.

According to other representatives, the bill could incentivize more farmers’ markets and improve overall health in the state.