January 22, 2018
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Houlton Community Market Helps Everyone Eat Healthy and Local

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Marie Taft and Heather McGuire are at the market every Saturday to welcome shoppers and support the nutrition incentive program.

The Houlton Community Market (HCM) is excited to be implementing two nutrition programs that bring healthy, local produce to more consumers. With the Maine Harvest Bucks program, HCM shoppers using federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits will receive bonus vouchers for fruits and vegetables for every SNAP dollar spent at market. Starting this year, a new pilot program will allow farmers at HCM who accept Women, Infant and Children (WIC) vouchers will to double the value of the vouchers. These 2 programs, combined, allow food insecure Mainers (primarily children and seniors) to have access to more nutritious fruits and vegetables. The Houlton Community Market signed up for the Maine Harvest Bucks program in 2016 as part of the statewide effort to combat the fact that Maine ranks 1st in New England for food insecurity.

“Maine Harvest Bucks is a nutrition incentive program in it’s third year. It continues to grow and be extremely impactful for families, seniors, and individuals who receive limited SNAP benefits” explains Jimmy DeBiasi, SNAP Program Coordinator for the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets (the organization that oversees the program at farmers’ markets). “This program incentivizes purchasing local, nutritious fruits and vegetables for the households who need it most. The Farmers’ Markets in our state are now playing a critical role in promoting healthy diets and, therefore, healthy lives for the most at-risk populations in our community.” In 2016, Maine Harvest Bucks attracted over one thousand new shoppers to farmers’ markets across the state to support their local farmers and consume more fruits and vegetables.

A federally-funded and state-administered program, SNAP provides an average of $4 per day to eligible individuals. Research demonstrates that SNAP dollars have a positive correlation with childhood development and long-term health, as well as the stabilization of local economies. “The Houlton Community Market brings life to a small downtown that has seen its share of struggles over the last decade” says Jane Torres, of the Greater Houlton Chamber of Commerce. “ Without our truly vibrant Community Market, Saturday would be just another day.”

At Houlton Community Market you will find a friendly face at the market info booth who can explain how our SNAP incentive program program works. Visit @houltonmarket on Facebook to learn more about the market, which takes place every Saturday from 9 to 1pm through October. Visit maineharvestbucks.org to learn about all the locations (farmers’ markets and more!) statewide where these SNAP bonuses are available. To email the Houlton SNAP coordinator directly, write to: thecounty@mffm.org.