Convention Sponsorship Boosts SNAP-programming at Farmers’ Markets

MFFM is grateful to have found a new partner for this year’s Maine Farmers’ Market Convention focused on equity and low-income food access. The New England Grassroots Environment Fund (NEGEF) provided a sponsorship that enabled farmers and community members working to support Supplemental Nutrition Access Program (SNAP) access at farmers’ markets to come to the Convention at no cost. Farmers and community members were awarded the grant based on need, location, market-size, and the individual’s commitment or interest toward low-income food access.

Thanks to NEGEF sponsorship, we had attendees from as far north as Presque Isle and Houlton, to York County and places in between. Our attendees were able to learn from sessions focused on fundraising, SNAP and Maine Harvest Bucks, family programming, marketing, and accessibility issues. The opportunity for our participants to network and learn from other markets in Maine that operate a SNAP-program was equally as valuable as the sessions to learn from throughout the day.

The 10th annual Maine Farmers’ Market Convention was concurrent with the 77th annual Maine Agricultural Trades Show at the Augusta Civic Center, providing a convenient opportunity for farmers from across the state to enjoy 2 important events in the same visit. The Convention attracted more than 150 attendees this year and provided 15 educational sessions enticing toward first-time market farmers, as well as seasoned veterans. The event’s keynote speak, author and professor Philip Ackerman-Leist, addressed the role farmers’ markets play in democratizing and revolutionizing the food system. His speech brought the day’s activities into a more grand and inspiring perspective of how local farms and farmers’ markets are tools for “hacking the local food shed” and empowering and revitalizing local economies and communities. Attendees also had the opportunity to meet with representatives from USDA Food and Nutrition Service and Maine CDC, to learn about SNAP and WIC programs that intersect with local food and farmers’ markets.

In the coming weeks, our SNAP Program Coordinator will be in close contact with these Convention attendees, along with all interested markets to begin planning for another year of SNAP and Maine Harvest Bucks at farmers’ markets. To make sure your market stays in the loop, contact SNAP@mffm.org and ask to be added to the 2018 list.

About the New England Grassroots Environment Fund

The New England Grassroots Environment Fund energizes and nurtures long-term civic engagement in local initiatives that create and maintain healthy, just, safe and sustainable communities using stories, tools and dollars to fuel local activism and social change. Since 1996, the Grassroots Fund’s core grant making program continues to fund nearly 150 grants annually, giving more than $4 million in 20 years to more than 2,000 community groups and initiatives covering more than 60 percent of New England’s cities and towns. For more information, please visit grassrootsfund.org or call 603-905-9915.