Links and information mentioned within our newscast can be found within these stories.
Farmer's markets extend food stamp value
Buying healthy and local food can be a struggle on a tight budget. But our Cara Thomas reports that a North County organization is continuing a six year program that makes it easier for those in need to buy local produce fresh from the farm.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
POTSDAM, N.Y. -- Food stamps are not uncommon in the North Country. With a tough economy and high unemployment rates, many people need extra assistance to stay afloat. And sometimes, expensive fruits and vegetables aren't always within someone's price range.
St. Lawrence County Commissioner of Social Services, Chris Rediehs, said, "There are many people who are receiving food stamps who really would like to shop at the farmer's markets for really high quality local foods, local vegetables and fruits."
One local organization saw that need and found a way to provide. Through donations and a grant through New York State Agriculture and Markets Fresh Connect Program, 'GardenShare' found a way to extend a food stamp dollar while shopping at either Potsdam or Canton's local farmer’s markets. More than six years ago the group began offering an incentive. For every dollar, food stamp recipients will receive a $1.50 in farmer's market tokens.
'GardenShare' Executive Director Aviva Gold said, "It's a great opportunity for lower income families to get really fresh from the field food and it's also great for our farmers to have those customers."
But extending the food stamp value isn't their only enticement. After five visits, people using food stamps will receive $20 to use freely at any farmer's market vendor.
"We've gotten a great response so far. We've only been running the program for two weeks since the beginning of June and it's already getting to be very popular," said Gold.
While this program isn't new to the area, GardenShare says they've seen food stamp sales go stagnant over the last few years, but they say this year is looking up and they're hoping to double their food stamp sales this season.
For more information about GardenShare, farmers' markets and other food assistance programs, go to www.gardenshare.org.