CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition’s SNAP Stretch program allows for SNAP recipients to double their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars at farmers markets and local grocers across the Mountain State. But earlier this year, the program was forced to take a brief hiatus after funding had run out.

SNAP Stretch allows those using their SNAP/EBT benefits to double or triple their dollars at farmers markets, on-farm stand, mobile markets and local retailers across the Mountain State. The program was established in 2018.

West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition’s Executive Director, Spencer Moss say this year was SNAP Stretch’s most successful, having utilized the entirety of funds available by the middle of the market season. The program put $158,000 into the local food economy and helped more 4,600 families gain access to locally produced food all by July of 2020.

“To put that number in perspective, only $53,000 in SNAP Stretch dollars was utilized for the entirety of 2019,” explained Moss. ‘That’s the reason for the temporary hiatus.”

However, on Friday Governor Jim Justice announced $100,000 in CARES Act funding would be directed to to restart the program through the West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition, in partnership with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA).

“The way you overcome a pandemic is with good nutrition. Now more than ever are our citizens relying on local producers for their food. Supporting the expansion of the SNAP Stretch program not only helps feed our most vulnerable, but put money straight back into our local economies,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.