By Emily Swan, President, Board of Directors
Last Friday’s Times Record included an excellent article about BTLT’s use of the Harvest Bucks program, designed to boost SNAP recipients’ access to healthy foods, at the Crystal Spring Farm market. It also appeared in the Press Herald. Click the logos below to read the article.
As in so many areas, BTLT’s efforts to connect SNAP recipients with healthy, nutritious, locally produced food involve collaboration with other community groups. One example is our partnership with Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program to raise food at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden for food-insecure people in our community. Another is our collaboration with Curtis Memorial Library to get more SNAP beneficiaries out to the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Farmers’ Market at Crystal Spring Farm. In pursuit of that goal, the Library is sponsoring market tours, one of which took place this past Saturday.
I was the BTLT representative in the market booth during Saturday’s market tour (described in the articles mentioned above). Although there were only two ladies on the tour, I know market manager Jacqui Koopman shares my belief that it was a moving, transformational, and joyous event, one that I hope will be repeated with other SNAP recipients during the course of the market season.
One of the ladies on the tour was hard of hearing, and it took her a while to grasp the fact that her $20 EBT investment would be matched by $20 worth of Harvest Bucks. She asked incredulously whether the match would be available each time she came to the market and not just this once, and when I told her it was, her face positively lit up. Jacqui then led the ladies from booth to booth, introducing them to vendors and the food choices each offered. Both proved to be culinarily adventurous and came away with a fabulous assortment of fresh foods.
I think these tours are really the way to help interested SNAP recipients pass the hurdle of the unknown. Now that they know what the market – and the Harvest Bucks program – have to offer, I have no doubt the ladies on yesterday’s tour will be back many times. I hope we are able to introduce many more SNAP recipients to our wonderful market in the coming months.
Jacqui and I agreed that yesterday was one of the most rewarding days we had ever had at the market, and we look forward to introducing more.