This handsome YOUNG man-I swear he looks to be too young to drive!-is T J Greaney and his well written article caught my eye. I have his permission to reprint what appeared in the Columbia, Missouri DailyTribune on Sunday, November 21, 2010:
‘Farmers market tries out food stamp program
At the Columbia Farmers Market yesterday, Stephanie McGuire used an EBT card given to all recipients of food stamps. The mother of two asked for only $24 worth of wooden tokens, which are redeemable as cash at the stalls in the outdoor market, but instead she received double that amount.
It wasn’t a mistake.
McGuire is part of a pilot program sponsored by Sustainable Farms and Communities Inc. that is doubling the food stamp dollars for shoppers at the market.
“Everything here is so amazing,” McGuire said while toting a bag of butternut squash, acorn squash and potatoes. “We never realized how big the farmers market is and how bountiful it is, really.”
The program will officially launch in March and organizers hope they can raise $50,000 to fully fund it, making it available to all local food stamp recipients. The program now is in a trial stage with only a handful of participants.
Casey Corbin, executive director of Sustainable Farms and Communities Inc., said the idea behind the project is to give people who live on a fixed budget access to locally grown produce, meats and dairy.Many of the healthy foods found at the outdoor market are more expensive than those in supermarkets, and food stamp recipients typically are unable to pay a premium for higher quality.
The pilot program seeks to eliminate that barrier.
“It’s like walking through the market and everything’s 50 percent off,” Corbin said. “And some vendors have already pledged to offer further discounts for people with the cards.”
Congress created the Farmers Market Nutrition Program for WIC participants in 1992 and expanded those benefits to low-income seniors in 2000. However, the funds for those programs are limited, typically maxing out at $30 per recipient per year. In 2008, a private organization based in Connecticut, Wholesome Wave, pushed the concept even further by doubling food stamps used at participating markets. That program has been successfully implemented at dozens of markets across the nation.
Sustainable Farms and Communities Inc. hopes to bring the Wholesome Wave model to Columbia.
Yesterday, Corbin and others held a fundraiser at Orr Street Studios to kick off what advocates hope will be a successful winter of fundraising from private donors.
In addition to doubling food stamps, the group also plans to hold community cooking classes and hand out free pots, pans, utensils and cookbooks to needy families.
Corbin said the instructional classes will be held in local churches and teach basic food safety and recipes.
“One of the big concerns in our community meetings was, ‘What good is it to have great access to healthy foods you can afford, when most people who have been living off frozen foods from Sam’s Club don’t know how to cook anymore?’” Corbin said. “I personally don’t know that many people who know how to cook.”
McGuire, who works part time as a breastfeeding peer counselor, said she likes the fact that the trips to the market are opening her daughters’ eyes to new foods.
Yesterday as father, Shane Capuano, cuddled 6-month-old Keira in his arms, the couple’s 3-year-old Rhiannon excitedly walked from stall to stall.
She watched eagerly as an accordion player belted out “Old McDonald.” This wasn’t like a typical trip to the supermarket.
“I think she’s tried a lot of things here that she wouldn’t normally, because a lot of the sellers here will hand you pieces of different kinds of vegetables just as samples,” McGuire said.
“Last time we were here, someone said, ‘Hey, would you like to try a turnip?’ And she was like “OK” and that’s not something we eat a lot of. It definitely gives her a new perspective.”’
SO! There you have it, kids. If YOU are a user of an EBT card for SNAP or WIC; if you love fresh fruits and veggies and other goodies readily available at Farmers Markets or if YOU use foods from a food pantry or YOU have food commodities, this item is no doubt of interest to you. If you use Angel Food bundles this should appeal to you, as those can be purchased with EBT cards. Even if you are just cost conscious about YOUR own food budget, this article should give you hope about getting families fed.
We at the Club want to thank Mr. T J Greaney and his newspaper for granting us permission to use the article. I hope you will cruise on over to his newspaper and leave your comment…AFTER you leave one HERE, of course. Grinning and winking…Here’s hoping you will find time to send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org, too.
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