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Mesker Park Zoo launches program for SNAP recipients

(photo courtesy of Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden)

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden in Evansville has launched the Community Membership Program in partnership with the Evansville Zoological Society. The program will offer $5 annual memberships for families participating in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program.

The program is being offered through the COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund of the Greater Evansville and Indiana United Ways, with funding being provided by Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc.

The regular annual family membership cost is $65. Zoo Director Eric Beck says the program is something the zoo has wanted to do for a long time and the pandemic has made the need for it more evident than ever.

“Your blood pressure goes down, you get to walk around, you get to see animals, you get to really connect. And that really is something that should be available for everybody for their quality of life, for communities quality of life,” Becker told our partners at WEHT-TV. “We’re seeing that a lot of people are really glad to see this happening.”

The program offers memberships for two named adults, plus children under 18 in each family enrolled in the federal SNAP program. The zoo says the initial rollout for the program will be available to residents in Gibson, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties.

“Utilizing the funds granted through the Covid-19 Crisis Response Fund of the Greater Evansville and the Indiana United Ways, we will be able to provide 1,250 households with a Community Membership, but we expect this initiative will grow [over time] and we are looking for future funding opportunities to help sustain it,” said Jennifer Evans, development director for the zoo.

You can learn more about the program by clicking here.