Lynchburg, VA - This past weekend, for the first time ever, stands at Lynchburg's Community Market started accepting food stamps, now known as SNAP.
The name says it all. "Cheese Shop at the Market" sells exactly what you'd expect: cheese in all shapes and sizes.
Kaitlin McCombs runs the shop, and loves the community market vibe, which she says is different from the traditional grocery store.
"I think it's the relationships you build here, and the farmers and all the other venders. They remember you. They want you to come back. You are kind of involved in each other's life," McCombs said.
What many call the warm and fuzzy shopping experience is now available to even more customers.
"As the community market, we really want to make sure we are making ourselves as accessible to as many people from the community as we can," said Market Manager Jennifer Kennedy.
Kennedy helped set-up the market's brand new SNAP program. It runs the same for every SNAP customer: just swipe your SNAP card on this machine, and, you are handed tokens.
Market vendors accept them, just like cash.
"Swipe it through, they enter their pin number, and then we issue them the tokens," Kennedy said.
To keep SNAP folks coming, there's an added bonus for now called Double Dollars.
For example, if you use $20 in SNAP benefits, you actually get $40 in tokens.
"We hope that as many people that can get down here to the market will utilize that," Kennedy said.
McCombs says the community market prices are already good.
"I think equal prices, if not lesser," McCombs said.
Allowing SNAP will only make the market available to more.
Of course, not every stand at the market can participate with the SNAP program. It's meant for fresh produce like cheeses, vegetables, and honey.
The best time to go to the market is Wednesday and Saturday from 1 0a.m to 2p.m.