ROANOKE, Va.—More people than ever are on food stamps, but sometimes that help isn't used for the heathiest of foods.
In fact, studies show poverty and obesity are intertwined.
The Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op farm on Blue Hills Drive is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to eradicate hunger and obesity for people on food stamps.
Others may see a farm, but John Bryant, marketing director of Roanoke Natural Foods Co-Op, sees potential.
“I guess the exciting thing for us is to know that people can get access to good natural, organic foods and even get access to local foods,” Bryant said.
The Co-Op bought the land for the farm with an idea.
The idea was that not only can they teach people in Roanoke to grow their own food and how to farm, but that they can also learn the skills to grow their own healthy foods for cheap.
“Anytime that we can do education around food and let people know there are really good options within their co-op or with their farmers market in their neighborhood, we see that as a win for us,” Bryant said.
The Co-Op is one of many local organizations targeting hunger through accessibility to healthy foods.
A movement toward more urban farmers' markets that accept Food Stamps is under way.
“Making that more and more accessible to folks is a big mission for us,” Bryant said.
This is a welcome sight for folks at social services who, every day, see close to 600 people come in to renew or apply for food stamps.
“It gives them more options and we certainly try to help promote that this is available at farmers markets,” Steven Martin of Roanoke City Social Services said.
Steven Martin says the number of people on food stamps in Roanoke has doubled since 2007.
It has improved, but Roanoke is right in line with most of the country.
“There has been a leveling off,” Martin said.
The hope is that as more urban farms pop up and more health-food stores take food stamps, the hunger problem does get solved, as healthy as possible.