About this project
With recent cuts to federal nutritional assistance programs, many people are making hard choices at the supermarket —including in Salem. Increasing local access to fresh affordable produce is essential to combating this cut at the federal level, and farmers markets can be a critical link to doing just that. Earlier this spring, Mass in Motion Salem, an initiative of Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, convened a working group of communitymembers to look at ways in which knowledge of, access to, and affordability of the current Salem Farmers Market at Derby Square could be increased. One way we decided to try to meet the needs of Salem residents struggling to provide healthy foods for their families was through a Frequent EBT/Food Stamp Shopper Reward Program at the Salem Farmers Market this season.
Some popular markets in Massachusetts feature a double EBT program sponsored by large grant organizations and some community funding. The success of these programs has in some ways been their undoing, as many of the grant organizations are now struggling to find funds to continue this type of program, let alone to look at expanding into a new community such as Salem. We decided to do something a little different. Modeled after a market in Boston run by Harvard University, the program we have created is a unique way of providing some extra support to Salem residents while also encouraging them to get out to the market more often or for the first time. However, we need your support to make this happen this summer.
For some people, even the lowest prices for the market's produce may be beyond reach. In many cases, this means a choice to not shop at the farmers market, or to go only occasionally. As you know, getting the freshest produce is critically important to overall health, as many produce items begin to lose their nutrients right away depending on how they were picked and how far they have to travel. Making sure that all residents can access the freshest produce possible is crucial; the only thing fresher than produce picked from a farm that morning, is if you grew it yourself!
In 2013, residents spent over $4,200 in EBT/Food Stamps at the market. The demand for and use of EBT at the market is already there; however, compared to other nearby markets such as Lynn, EBT benefits at the Salem market are not used as much or as often. With this reward program, we hope to increase both the amount of EBT spent and the number of residents attending the market.
How it works:
A Salem resident comes to the market and swipes a minimum of $5 in EBT at the Market Manager Tent. They get a frequent shopper card and one stamp or punch.
They spend their $5 in EBT and whatever else they wish to spend at the market that day.
They do this for a total of 3 weeks.
They come back to the market on the 4th week and have their card verified at the Market Manager Tent.
They receive $15 in EBT “free” to spend on eligible items at the market that week. They may choose to swipe their EBT card, or to pay cash for other items as usual.
The next week, they come back to the Market Manager Tent and ask for a new card. They swipe $5 or more in EBT benefits, and they receive one stamp or punch and repeat the process above.
Cards can be combined if someone were to forget their card that week.
If each eligible person attended every market and redeemed every card, they would receive $75 in free produce! This is enough to buy the following (and then some!):
2 heads of lettuce, 4 bunches of kale, 4 pounds of tomatoes, 10 bell peppers, 24 hot peppers, 4 pounds of potatoes, 2 pints of blueberries, 4 pounds of apples, 2 watermelon, 10 summer squash, 4 bunches of beets, 4 pounds yellow onions, 4 bunches of Swiss chard, 2 bunchs of carrots, and 2 eggplants.
Our goal is $2,800, which would provide this program to the current residents who shop at the market using EBT, and would provide the opportunity to double the participation rate. Studies show that with programs like this, EBT usage can increase 50-100%; we have built that into what we hope to raise. The money would be used this season for the Summer Market, and potentially for the Winter Market depending on demand and utilization. All funds raised will go directly toward providing food benefits to Salem residents; other administrative, printing, and distribution costs are covered by Mass in Motion Salem.
Facts about Hunger
Across the country, 47 million people receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Even with aid, 5% of households have very low food security, meaning they may not have food through the end of the month. Nearly 60% are children, elderly, or disabled. 60% of Salem Public School students qualify as low income.
About Mass in Motion Salem a Program of the Office of Mayor Kimberley Driscoll
Mass in Motion Salem works locally to increase opportunities for Salem residents to eat better and move more in the places where they live, learn, work, and play. Salem is among 52 cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth that are part of the MA Department of Public Health’s Mass in Motion Municipal Wellness and Leadership Program. Mass in Motion Salem is working to implement Safe Routes to Schools, expanded access to the Salem Farmers/Winter Markets, school garden initiatives, and infrastructure evaluations that will make the healthy choice the easy choice for residents of Salem.
Mass in Motion Salem is funded in part by North Shore Medical Center and Partners HealthCare with additional support from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
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