Getting your hands on fresh fruits and vegetables is a SNAP

Body: 

Expect more bananas and lettuce in shopping carts around Minnesota.

Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- formerly known as Food Stamps -- now have an opportunity to purchase additional produce this summer. Duluthian SNAP recipients will be able to help test a program that the Minnesota Department of Human Services is now leading.

The program test, named SNAP+, includes a pilot plan at three grocery stores in areas with high poverty rates. One of these stores is the Super One Foods in Duluth on 5300 Bristol Street. (The other two are in Cass Lake and Crystal.)

SNAP+ officially began June 15, and runs through Sept. 30, 2013. During this time, SNAP recipients who purchase $5 or more in fresh fruits and vegetables with their Electronic Benefit Transfer cards will receive a $5 coupon toward the next purchase of fresh produce at a participating store. Approximately 30,000 coupons will be delivered over the course of the pilot.

"We are excited about the SNAP+ pilot because it puts healthy food directly into the hands of those who need it," said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. "Getting businesses, communities, organizations and government together is the best way to ensure Minnesotans get the nutritious food they need to lead healthy lives."

Super One will post signs and instructions for SNAP participants looking to partake in the program.

SNAP has recently overcome some funding hurdles. With the advocacy of 18 mayors from major U.S cities, a bill to cut funding for the program was defeated.

The funding for the pilot program comes from Minnesota's portion of a federal bonus to increase SNAP access to more than 500,000 Minnesotans.