The Pittsfield Farmers’ Market is excited to be offering a nutrition incentives program for the remainder of the season. With the Farmers’ Market Bucks program, shoppers who participate in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive bonus vouchers for fruits and vegetables when they visit the market. “It’s as simple as showing up!” says Jimmy DeBiasi, of the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets (MFFM), the Pittsfield-based organization that runs similar programs around the state. “This program is a great strategy to help more Mainers eat more fruits and vegetables. Not to mention, the program is also helping shoppers on a limited budget stretch their funds during challenging times. The average SNAP participant only receives $4 a day for their food budget.” DeBiasi wants it to be clear to SNAP shoppers that the market does not have the equipment to accept SNAP/EBT, however, it does give SNAP Shoppers the bonus Farmers’ Market Bucks to shop at the market.
SNAP is a federally-funded and state-administered program. Research demonstrates that SNAP dollars have a positive correlation with childhood development and long-term health, as well as the stabilization of local economies. Nutrition incentive programs are being run at farmers’ markets across the state, thanks to collaborative partnerships among farmers’ markets, local organizations, and MFFM. The goal of nutrition incentive programs is to combat hunger and food insecurity, which is especially important in Maine, which ranks 1st in food insecurity in New England.
“It is quite easy for SNAP/EBT shoppers to use Farmers’ Market Bucks at our market”, says Heather Holland of Outland Farm. “When a person shows one of our friendly vendors their SNAP/EBT card, they’ll get $10 in vouchers to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at the market.” The vouchers are only valid until the end of this market season, so get the market soon! The Pittsfield Farmers’ Market runs every Monday from 2 to 6pm at Hathorn Park on Somerset Avenue, with the last day of the season being October 30, 2017.