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Quarles celebrates Kentucky Farmers’ Markets Week

Promotes program to allow low-income Kentuckians to double their buying power
Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles speaks at a press event in Lexington to celebrate Kentucky’s Farmers’ Markets Week.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — During Kentucky’s Farmers’ Markets Week, Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles urged Kentuckians to visit one of Kentucky’s 164 farmers’ markets this week and announced a new Kentucky Proud advertising campaign called “Fresh Food. Fresh Thinking.”

The call for Kentucky to buy fresh farm products came alongside an effort to promote Kentucky Double Dollars, a program that doubles the buying power for Kentuckians receiving federal nutrition benefits at 43 farmers’ markets.

“This year we are launching a new ad campaign called ‘Fresh Food. Fresh Thinking.’ to promote Kentucky’s farmers’ markets during this difficult time,” Quarles said. “It’s important to realize that Kentucky’s farmers’ markets have adapted to protect themselves and Kentucky consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. I hope all Kentuckians will join me in celebrating Kentucky’s more than 160 farmers’ markets through innovative pick-up, online, and socially-distanced shopping.”

The ad campaign centers on the idea that Kentucky’s farmers’ markets are great places to find fresh locally grown food as well as support our communities around the commonwealth. The campaign launched statewide with a video spot and digital geo-fences around Kentucky’s farmers’ markets. To learn more and to find a Kentucky Proud farmer’s market near you, visit kyproud.com/farmersmarkets/.

Quarles promoted the Kentucky Double Dollars program with Community Farm Alliance (CFA), Bluegrass Farm to Table, the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP), the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), Passport Health Plans, WellCare Health Plans, and the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky.

“The Double Dollars Program is a win-win for hungry families and Kentucky farmers,” Quarles said. “Kentucky Double Dollars stretches the spending power of a dollar from these federal nutrition programs and also increases sales at Kentucky farmers’ markets. I want to once again thank Passport, WellCare, and CFA on the continued success of Double Dollars in making sure everyone has access to fresh, Kentucky Proud foods.”

Access to farm fresh products is even more important this year as seniors and low income families are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This importance was made vitally clear when access to stores was limited for some as they stayed home trying to remain healthy.

“Farmers markets have continued to grow in Kentucky; in numbers, products offered, and in affordability,” CFA Executive Director Martin Richards said. “This year has presented an unprecedented challenge and I am very proud of how Kentucky’s farmers markets have responded to that challenge, and how Community Farm Alliance, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, Passport, WellCare, and many more partners have supported the markets. Kentucky Double Dollars, in particular, has seen great success in reaching Kentucky families and farmers, especially this year. If we can continue to provide access to healthy, locally-grown fruits and vegetables for families, and provide direct economic support for our hard-working farming communities, then this program and Kentucky’s farmers markets will continue to make an impact that matters.”

“Passport Health Plan is proud to continue our support for the Double Dollars program,” said Jill Bell, Vice President Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Passport Health Plan. “Now more than ever, access to fresh fruits and vegetables is critically important. We are all doing our best to stay healthy at home and we hope our members, neighbors, and friends will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to improve their health.”

“When families use the Double Dollars program at their local farmers markets, they can double the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they can put on their tables. These families can get better, fresher food — and more of it — while supporting our local communities,” said Bill Jones, plan president and CEO, WellCare of Kentucky. “Making nutritious foods more accessible is an important step in helping Kentucky families make healthier choices, which can lead to healthier lifestyle choices and better health outcomes in the long-term.”

“The inability to affordably provide what every person needs to thrive is the primary driver for all of the inequities in our region and across our nation,” Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky Executive Director Gerry Roll said. “In the midst of a global pandemic and social unrest, local food presents us with a unique opportunity to address these inequities. Our partnership with Community Farm Alliance and USDA to support farmers’ markets across southeastern Kentucky highlights what a thriving network of local farms and local markets can do to improve the economy, provide access to affordable local food, and build community – a small step on the path to a more vibrant, equitable world.”

To find a farmers’ market near you, visit kyproud.com/farmersmarkets.