Rachel credits SNAP and the Georgia Fresh For Less program at Athens Farmers Market for helping her get by between careers in the pandemic.
A year ago, Rachel Marts wouldn’t have guessed that she’d feel most at home at the Athens Farmers Market, but when the pandemic hit, everything changed.
A 29-year-old native of Columbus, GA, Rachel was working full time as a manager for a fashion brand before the pandemic. Between managing her staff and working with clients, she had a pretty busy schedule. But, like millions of other Americans, she was placed on furlough due to the economic shutdown.
Unable to receive unemployment benefits immediately after working in Alabama, Rachel was grateful that her partner found work in Georgia. It meant that they were able to move back home. “Luckily, so many blessings came around,” Rachel says.
“[I’m hopeful because of] the odd amount of good that’s come out of a really weird year. [The pandemic] has caused an influx of people buying local. It’s really brought people home to the fact that that is important.”
Rachel is happy to see her friends and peers learning about where their food comes from and get excited to grow their own, even if they have to ask her for some guidance along the way.
Rachel credits the Georgia Fresh for Less program with helping her “feel independent in a time where a lot of things felt out of control.”
Facilitated by Wholesome Wave Georgia, the Georgia Fresh for Less program matches SNAP and EBT dollars for shoppers at local farmers markets so they can get more nutritious food for less.
“Having these benefits have added that layer of consistency in my life that’s very comforting,” Rachel states.
Applying for SNAP benefits was vital in enabling Rachel to switch career paths this year. During this turbulent season, she has earned her real estate license and is embarking into an entirely new profession. Since this is a career that takes a while to become consistent, SNAP benefits have added a level of comfort and stability that Rachel needs. With this new level of confidence, she is eager to begin helping people buy their dream home.
“I get the privilege of helping people sometimes buy their first home. I get to be their advocate while they go through the process, and it’s amazing,” Rachel exclaims.
Now, sitting in Athens Farmers Market surrounded by her community, Rachel is grateful for the opportunity to get to know the people growing her food — especially the tomatoes, her favorite produce they sell at the market.
“Getting to come here, even though we’re all being very safe and wearing our masks and keeping our distance, it really has been awesome.”
Read more from Wholesome Wave Georgia’s “Faces of Food Insecurity” Athens storytelling series.