In previous years, the Sanford Farmers’ Market had two locations – downtown Springvale on Wednesdays and Sanford’s Central Park on Saturdays – but chose to move both market days to Central Park this season. There were many pros to this location switch – consistency and quality of location, centrality and visibility. However, market manager and SNAP program point person, Jack McAdam noticed a drop in SNAP sales and had to wonder if the location change was part of the cause. He reached out to MFFM to brainstorm solutions.
Over the past month, a new partnership has formed between the market, MFFM, and the York County Community Action Corporation (YCCAC). Starting on August 10th, customers who participate in the Maine Harvest Bucks SNAP bonus program at the market will be offered free round-trip bus passes on the local public bus system, which is operated by YCCAC. There are multiple routes that stop nearby the market so customers should visit this schedule/route page to find the best option for them. Visit the market information booth hosted by McDougal Orchards on Wednesdays to learn more about the new bus pass program.
The goal of this pilot project is to minimize the barrier of transportation to and from the market so that everyone who could benefit from the Maine Harvest Bucks program has the opportunity to do so and everyone who wishes can enjoy their local farmers’ market. Markets around the country have initiated similar partnerships with public transportation systems. At the end of this 3-month pilot, we will compare the results with other similar programs and consider how to expand transportation-market connections in Sanford and elsewhere around the state.