ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. – Sometimes purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables can come as second nature, but when hard times hit, these products may not fit into a budget.
Of the households that receive Food and Nutrition benefits, 20,000 have been impacted by COVID-19 in our state.
As a way to help cover food costs, income maintenance case workers, like Jeffrey Cruz in Onslow County, help families sign up for a new program called "Healthy Helping."
“It's a three-month produce, prescription program for individuals that are receiving food stamp benefits,” says Jeffrey Cruz, income maintenance case worker with Onslow County.
The goal of the program is to help people receiving SNAP benefits buy more healthy food.
“This program just covers fruits and vegetables. It also covers canned fruits, and frozen fruits and vegetables that have no salt, sugar, or fat,” Cruz says.
To make this possible, the Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with a nonprofit organization called Reinvestment Partners.
“The North Carolina General Assembly was the one who funded the $2.5 million,” Cruz says.
To date, there have been 127 people enrolled in the program in Onslow County. Cruz is expecting more people to participate in the coming weeks.
“The official last day to sign up for this program would be in December, but if you sign up in December, you'll only be eligible for one month of the program,” Cruz says.
In order to be enrolled in the program, people must be receiving SNAP benefits and use their MVP card when they purchase the items from Food Lion.