Student to Watch: Jennifer Russomanno

Eating healthy can be expensive, and buying fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers is often not an option for people who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Jennifer Russomanno, a graduate student in public health, is hoping to shed some light on the barriers for small rural farmers’ markets that seek to implement a program to provide an avenue for SNAP recipients to gain access to healthier foods.

Jennifer RussamanoRussomanno is currently working on an essay that addresses the lack of farmers’ markets in East Tennessee that are approved to accept SNAP. She is the co-owner/operator of a farm in Jefferson County and is a vendor at several regional farmers’ markets. As a vendor, Russomanno has been approached by SNAP recipients asking if she accepts that particular form of payment.

“These interactions made me realize that the lack of SNAP acceptance at farmers’ markets is a problem in this area,” she says.

There are twenty-eight farmers’ markets in operation in the sixteen-county region of East Tennessee and only three are SNAP-authorized.

“I am hopeful that through my paper, regional farmers’ market managers and other key stakeholders can see that an opportunity to provide greater access to
healthy foods is being missed by not accepting SNAP at markets.”

Russomanno’s research was accepted by the American Public Health Association to be presented at their national meeting in Chicago in November. She is a Public Health Education and Health Promotion Student Award recipient. The award is presented to
only ten students across the country each year.

Photograph by BJ Crawford

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