New Program Offers Bonus for People at Farmers’ Markets with SNAP Benefits

Jul 21 2015

The Daily Hampshire Gazette, July 16th, 2015, by Gena Mangiaratti.

NORTHAMPTON — A new program aims to make fresh local food more available to low-income families inn the Valley.

Farmers’ markets have teamed up with Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) and Healthy Hampshire to create SNAP & Save. The matching program, which launched Saturday, allows farmers’ market customers with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to double the number of tokens they purchase with a limit of up to $5. For example, customers who swipe their EBT cards for $2 will get tokens worth $4, and customers who swipe for $5 will receive $10 in tokens. A customer who swipes for $6 will receive tokens worth $11.

“It’s been really awesome for all of the market managers to come together and communicate, and create something together and support each other,” said Oona Coy, who manages the Northampton Tuesday Market with her husband, Ben James.

The Snap & Save program replaces FoodStampsX2, which was available only at the Northampton Tuesday Market for the past six years. Also participating in Snap & Save are the Amherst Farmers’ Market, the Florence Farmers’ Market, the Northampton Farmers’ Market and several markets in Hampden County.

Snap & Save is funded for the rest of the market season by the Lydia B. Stokes Foundation and an anonymous donor to CISA, based in South Deerfield.
Farmers’ market staff say the new program encourages people with SNAP benefits to visit the markets.

“It’s a great program. Really helps a lot of people,” said Jim Fortini, a vendor at the Florence Farmers’ Market who was also running the EBT machine on Wednesday. About an hour into the market, he said three people had already used their EBT cards.

Liming Dolan of Northampton, who has been a SNAP customer at the Northampton Tuesday Market and advised organizers of Snap & Save in the launching of the new program, applauded CISA for expanding it to Holyoke and Springfield.

“I do feel like I am lucky to live in a richly fed area,” Dolan said. “For me, it was really important to see these programs being implemented in more urban places.”

For more information and a full list of participating markets, visit the CISA website at www.buylocalfood.org/buy-local/find-local/snapandsave/.

Gena Mangiaratti can be reached at gmangiaratti@gazettenet.com.

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