CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Anyone who’s gone to the grocery store lately has likely experienced sticker shock. The US Labor Department said food prepared at home now costs 10% more than it did a year ago.

Inflation continues to put a strain on families. But a program that could help West Virginia families stock up on fresh produce for less is back again this year.

“You don’t have to shop all in one place. You can shop farmer to farmer, grower to grower,” said Evan Osborn, Executive Director of Capitol Market, talking about the SNAP Stretch Program.

The program doubles the benefits on qualifying purchases for anyone using an EBT card at the market.

“Now if you have a child with you or you are over the age of 60, then it will triple. If you happen to be one of the unique circumstances that we see sometimes in West Virginia where you are a grandfamily, so you are a grandparent raising a child, then it will actually quadruple,” Osborn said.

The money can also be used to purchase herbs or plants to grow your own food.

“A lot of parents will bring their children in and let their children spend the money on the vegetables they want,” said farmer Andy Crihfield. “Just like the garden plants, if they come in and the child likes peppers they allow them to pick out several different kinds of peppers. It really lets that child become and owner of that program too.”

Osborn said in the few years since the program started, SNAP Stretch has put close to $150,000 back into the pockets of local farmers allowing their businesses to grow. He said it has also helped attract more people to the market in search of healthy food.

“I love feeding the community. I love helping people out,” Crihfield said.

If you want to use the SNAP Stretch program at Capitol Market, just stop by the market office when you first arrive and they’ll help you get started. Capitol Market will launch this year’s SNAP Stretch program May 1. It will continue as long as funding is available.