an adult hands an apple to a child at a farmers market

The St. Helena Farmers Market, a small oasis in a rural food desert

In *All, Agricultural Economy, Agricultural Systems, Food Security by AgIsAmerica

Food insecurity, defined as the lack of access to a reliable source of food during a given year, is high in St. Helena, one of Louisianas eight Florida Parishes. The food insecurity rate here is 32%. There are only two grocery stores nearby: one in town and another about 10 miles outside of town. St. Helena Parish is not alone in a lack of healthful food choices in the state, and adults arent the only demographic at risk. According to the State of Childhood Obesity website, a 2019-2020 survey showed that 22.2% of Louisiana youth ages 10 to 17 are obese, ranking the state third in the nation, only behind Kentucky at 23.8% and Mississippi at 23.3%. 

St. Helena Farmers Market in Greensburg was started four years ago as part of the LSU AgCenter’s healthy communities program to provide residents and visitors fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins from local producers. The market gives families healthful alternatives as well as community pride in one of Louisianas numerous food deserts.

The St. Helena Farmers Market offers a SNAP matching program that gives customers who have electronic benefits transfer (EBT) a three-to-one match. For example, for every $5 spent at the market using EBT, a customer can receive an additional $15 to purchase more fruits and vegetables.

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