The time couldn’t be more perfect to spotlight this key statewide partner in our work to expand SNAP access at farmers’ markets. Just this week, Maine SNAP-Ed launched their new website – a fantastic resource where anyone can learn how to shop, cook, and eat healthfully on a small food budget.
Established in 2012 and funded by the USDA and Maine DHHS, Maine SNAP-Ed reaches tens of thousands of Maine people each year with nutrition education and other related programming. Their 40+ educators and coordinators – stationed throughout the state – bring their programs to sites that are accessible to SNAP recipients, such as schools, healthcare facilities, food pantries, social service offices, and (the one we’re extra excited about!) farmers’ markets.
Many SNAP Educators, like Beth Chamberlain shown above left at the Unity Farmers’ Market, have longstanding relationships with their area markets and each season, set a schedule of market tours, cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and promotional activities. Their efforts encourage SNAP recipients (and others who happen upon their programs) to explore their farmers’ market as a great option for high quality, fresh foods, often at competitive prices when purchased in season and/or in bulk.
Each year the network of SNAP-friendly farmers’ markets grows and new SNAP-Ed partnerships are constantly in the making. The majority of markets that accept SNAP now also participate in the Maine Harvest Bucks nutrition incentive program, which provides bonus dollars to SNAP customers to be spent on fruits and vegetables. The Maine Harvest Bucks program is a proven way to help stretch limited food dollars (SNAP benefits average just $28 / week) and increase accessibility of fresh produce. This program is directly in line with the healthy eating goals of SNAP-Ed, and we are thrilled to continue, and deepen, collaboration between our programs.
With recipes and tips for healthy budget eating, their new website is a resource for all of us. Check it out!