The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, sometimes referred to as food stamps, helps more than 600,000 low-income households statewide purchase food, but it can be hard to find nutritious fare in the heart of Oklahoma City, said Urban Agrarian founder Matthew Burch.
“We’re located in an urban area of Oklahoma City where SNAP-eligible families don’t have access to good grocery options,” he said. “I think the nearest grocery store is a Homeland at 17th and Classen.”
Not only does the program ensure better access to fresh fruits and vegetables for families, it also benefits Oklahoma’s farming industry.
“When food stamp benefits go to growers in the city and the state, instead of down to Florida or Mexico, it keeps the funds in the state,” he said. “And since it’s local, the freshness and quality of the produce is better for buyers than what’s been sitting and wilting in-transit from out-of-state growers.”
Open for nearly five years, Urban Agrarian focuses on connecting consumers with Oklahoma farmers, ranchers, dairies and other food producers. The best part of the job, Burch said, is seeing people react to food that is picked at its peak.
“What you’re tasting and seeing, the colors, the flavors — that signifies higher nutritional value,” he said.
“People who say they hate tomatoes change their mind when they try one of ours.”
Burch said the most difficult part of accepting SNAP benefits was trying to get the application to get another application to apply. Once they verified and understood the Urban Agrarian model, the process flew by.