A partnership between the Peoria RiverFront Market and Community Foundation of Central Illinois, the Wholesome Food Fund expands SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) participants’ access to fresh produce and incentivizes them to spend money on foods that support their families’ health. The fund essentially doubles the value of SNAP dollars spent at the farmers’ market, which in turn increases the income of its vendors—most of whom live within 30 miles of Peoria. And the incentive is working.

In 2012, the program’s first year, nearly five times as many federal food assistance dollars were spent at the market compared to the previous year. In 2015, federally-financed LINK purchases accounted for more than $10,800, with an additional $10,200 funded by the Wholesome Food Fund. All together, SNAP recipients have spent over $65,000 at the market during the partnership’s four-year history.

OSF dietetic interns staff the booth that offers this service, allowing them to develop their skills as future nutrition professionals by offering biweekly recipe demonstrations. All visitors to the market can enjoy these food samples and learn how to use produce from the market. In addition, the partnership supports the expansion of the RiverFront Market as a whole, which brings traffic to surrounding businesses, helps revitalize the Peoria Riverfront, and builds a sense of community among vendors and visitors from across the region.

The Wholesome Food Fund relies entirely on donations to fund the double-value program. Visit communityfoundationci.org to donate or learn more about upcoming fundraisers. iBi