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Boise City Council OKs Matching SNAP Funds for Mobile Farmers Market


- The Mobile Market on display at the Boise Farmers Market -  - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • The Mobile Market on display at the Boise Farmers Market

The Boise City Council has approved funds for a program designed to put fresh food into the hands of Boiseans living in food deserts in a 4-0 vote.

During an regularly scheduled afternoon work session, Boise City Councilman TJ Thomson asked the council to designate $20,000 from the City Council Strategic Initiatives Fund to match, dollar for dollar up to $10, purchases made with SNAP funds at the Mobile Market—a collaboration between the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Boise Farmers Market. 

The Mobile Market sources fresh, local fruits and vegetables from a variety Boise Farmers Market vendors, and sells them at locations in food deserts identified by Parks and Recreation. It will be at various locations including Oak Park Village, Redwood Park, Latah Village, Veterans Memorial Park, Northwest Pointe Apartments and Winstead Park between Monday, June 8, and Thursday, Aug. 21. Other appearances beyond that date have yet to be determined.

Matching SNAP benefits with fresh produce purchases falls under Thomson's Healthy Boise Initiatives 2.0 platform, which included a plan to limit students' access to fast food that was ultimately scrubbed. It's also related to a Thomson-backed plan to revamp pre-kindergarten programs in the city by mandating children spend less time in front of televisions and eat more fresh foods. scoring pre-k programs on how much time enrolled children spend in front of televisions and how much fresh foods they eat, and making those scores available to parents.

The city's financial commitment is set to last two years, which means the city may spend up to $40,000 total matching SNAP purchases at the Mobile Market, and the city will be able to track those SNAP purchases, giving planners a snapshot of who is making those purchases and for how much. Thomson told the council that if the program used all $20,000 in the first year, "it was a very successful year."

In the same vote, the city council also authorized another plank of the Healthy Boise Initiatives 2.0: health impact assessments on city projects at a cost of $45,000. The assessments will be made on all future city projects including new fire stations and the Bown branch of the Boise Public Library. According to Thomson, such assessments will help determine the overall community health impacts of city projects and direct future assessments of city projects that may have an impact on public health.