Farmers’ market program helps more Mainers access fresh fruits and vegetables

Jun 04, 2018

Belfast — Belfast Farmers' Market is once again distributing Maine Harvest Bucks, an incentive program which helps thousands Mainers eat more Maine-grown fruits and vegetables each year.

People who buy food using SNAP (the program formerly known as food stamps) have an average of $4 a day to spend on food. Maine Harvest Bucks doubles those food dollars and encourages shoppers to purchase fruits and vegetables.

When a shopper spends a dollar with SNAP, he/she receives a dollar voucher in Maine Harvest Bucks. The Maine Harvest Bucks vouchers go toward fresh fruits and vegetables, value-added products without added sugar, and fruit and vegetable seedlings at the market. Shoppers can also save the vouchers for when their SNAP/EBT funds are low. This helps to ensure families can buy food at all times of the month.

Belfast Farmers' Market operates every Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., year-round. Any person who shops with SNAP is welcome to join in and reap the harvest with Maine Harvest Bucks.

Organizers from the Belfast Farmers' Market volunteered to sign up for this program. Market members note that Maine Harvest Bucks brings them new customers. They also regard the program as a great way for their market to help fight food insecurity in their region.

This program helps to address a major issue in all Maine communities. Maine has the third-highest percentage of residents experiencing hunger in the country (behind Alabama and Louisiana). One in every four children in Maine is food insecure. SNAP keeps thousands of Mainers out of poverty by giving them extra dollars for food.

Shopping for food with only $4 a day can lead to difficult choices. Maine Harvest Bucks helps Maine families by increasing the food budget for shoppers using SNAP at participating farmers' markets.

Maine Harvest Bucks is a program of the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets (MFFM); the Belfast Farmers' Market partners with MFFM to operate this program. “It’s a win-win for farmers and the families", says Jimmy DeBiasi, SNAP Program Coordinator at MFFM. “Farmers gain new customers. Maine families who use SNAP have more dollars to spend on fruits and vegetables. That's what Maine Harvest Bucks is about.”

The Belfast Farmers' Market, founded in 1980, is now featuring 29 vendors and takes place every Friday at Waterfall Arts, 256 High St. in Belfast through October, then moves into the greenhouse at Aubuchon Hardware, 231 Northport Ave. (Route 1) in Belfast through April.

At the Belfast Farmers' Market shoppers will find a friendly face at the Market Info Booth who can explain how Maine Harvest Bucks works. Visit belfastfarmersmarket.org to learn more about the market. Visit maineharvestbucks.org to learn about all the locations (farmers’ markets and more!) statewide where these SNAP bonuses are available.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.