The Chan family values sustainable local food, eating well to stay healthy, and family meals around the dinner table.
“We’ve always believed in healthy eating,” says Chan. He attributes his family’s good health to the food they put in their bodies. With the high price of fresh, local food, he realizes they are investing in their health. He believes that you can either pay on the front end for good healthy food or pay on the back end for medical bills that result from a poor diet. “We’d rather pay for it on the front end. I’d rather eat good food and be healthy, and avoid the medical bills.”
Making that investment suddenly became a challenge when A.C. lost his job after 15 years. He needed to find a way to continue providing healthy food for his family while living on a strict budget. A.C. discovered he was eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps. Like so many Americans, A.C. had preconceived notions about SNAP. “There’s this notion about food stamps and unemployment being a dirty thing.”
After enrolling, he realized that SNAP was a program that he already paid into as a taxpayer and is a safety net in case something happens. “We’d all like to think that we put away money for a rainy day fund, but we don’t.”
After receiving SNAP benefits himself, his perception of SNAP quickly changed. He was shocked when he came to the farmers market and noticed the other market shoppers using their SNAP benefits. What A.C. sees at the market is reflective of SNAP participation statewide: the program serves 1 out of every 6 Georgians. He has met SNAP recipients who hold typical 9 to 5 office jobs, retail workers, women and men of all different ages and race.
Even on SNAP, A.C.’s limited budget would have forced his family to purchase cheaper, less nutritious foods and sacrifice their healthy values. With SNAP and the Fresh for Less program, A.C. is able to continue buying fresh, local, wholesome food for his family.
The Chans don’t just buy fresh, local food for their health. Shopping at the farmers market is a community event and it gives A.C. the chance to support local farmers and his local economy. “I know a lot of these farmers on a first name basis,” he says. “They talk to me about their farms, I know about their families, their food, their values.”
He knows he could buy all of his produce from one farmer, but he chooses to share the wealth; he buys a little bit from each farmer because he wants to support everyone. “They’re all here trying to make a livelihood as well.”
Visit the Chan household for dinner on a typical night, and you will get to dig into a home-cooked meal made with fresh, local ingredients found at the Grant Park Farmers Market.
Their favorite meal? Berkshire pork chops, sautéed apples and onions, grilled kale and red potatoes. The Chans are champions of sustainable food and cooking dinner together is a cherished nightly routine.