A little outside the box thinking can go a long way towards solving a problem. This year, Produce Perks is working with Rural Action and ACEnet to address healthy food access in the Athens region. Athens County has one of the highest food insecurity rates in the state of Ohio, and thousands of individuals rely on federal food assistance dollars to keep food on the table each month. Additionally, residents have difficulty accessing fresh healthy, local foods.

In 2010, Rural Action began the Country Fresh Stop program as a way of connecting more Athens residents to local produce. The program partners with business owners in rural areas to coordinate purchasing and sale of local foods. Since the program began, shelves of produce have popped up in unlikely settings such as gas stations, convenience stores, and pharmacies, providing consumers vital access to fresh, healthy foods.

Beginning this May, the Produce Perks program will be offered at three Country Fresh Stops, allowing Suplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) shoppers to stretch their dollars further. When shopping with SNAP at Country Fresh Stops at Shrivers Pharmacy – Nelsonville, Shrivers Pharmacy – Zanesville, or Coonskin Crossing in Amesville, customers will receive a coupon for free produce, redeemable on their next visit. When making a SNAP/EBT purchase of $5.00 – $9.99, customers will receive a $5.00 coupon for fresh produce, and when purchasing $10 or more with SNAP/EBT, customers will receive two coupons worth $10.

Produce Perks has been available at the Athens Farmers Market, held on Saturdays, year-round, and Wednesdays during the warmer season, since 2016. At the farmers’ market, SNAP consumers receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to $20. With the launch of the program at Country Fresh Stops, Athens residents will have increased access to affordable fruits and vegetables.

Produce Perks in Athens

Athens Farmers Market – 1000 E State St, Athens, Saturdays 9:00am – 12:00pm, Wednesday, 9:00am -1:00pm (April – December).

Shrivers Pharmacy – Nelsonville – 40 Watkins Street, Nelsonville, Monday – Friday 9:00am – 7:00pm, Saturday, 9:00am – 3:00pm.

Shrivers Pharmacy – Zanesville – 406 Brighton Blvd, Zanesville, Monday – Friday 9:00am – 7:00pm, Saturday, 9:00am – 3:00pm.

Coonskin Crossing – 6 State Route 550, Amesville, Monday – Friday 6:30am – 9:00pm, Saturday 7:00am – 9:00pm, Sunday 8:00am – 9:00pm.

Find a Produce Perks location near you: produceperks.org/locations/.