Farmers’ markets expand access to fresh food through TC programs

Tackling food insecurity head-on, state officials and partner organizations have worked tirelessly to expand this accessibility through various programs.

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. — State officials and activists strolled through the Middletown Farmers’ Market on Friday, highlighting food assistance programs that are helping to increase access to fresh, locally grown foods in the farmers markets across the state.

Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt explained that farmers’ markets bring fresh food and a sense of community to cities around the world.

“This is about making sure Connecticut residents all have access to healthy, nutritious food,” Hurlburt added.

Tackling food insecurity head-on, state officials and partner organizations have worked tirelessly to expand this accessibility through various programs.

One such program is the Farmers Market Nutrition Program. It’s for women, infants, children, or seniors 60 and older who meet specific guidelines to have the option of receiving up to $32 in Farmers’ Market checks.

“It’s basically free dollars that the state is paying,” Hurlburt said.

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All of this can be used to buy fresh Connecticut-grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, cut herbs, and honey.

The second program is the CT Fresh Match program, from the anti-hunger organization End Hunger CT. It doubles the instant benefits at participating farmers markets.

“The SNAP doubling increases their buying power; it gives them more money to spend in a market,” Hurlburt explained.

This season, the program has expanded and received new funding through the Department of Agriculture.

“And it gave us the opportunity to not only include more farmers markets across the state in our program, but also include non-product matches,” said Molly Stadnicki, community resource coordinator for End Hunger CT.

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In a press release from Governor Ned Lamont, he said that at Middletown Farmers Market, approximately 90% of customers are seniors who use these programs, which include the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) , and CT Fresh Match.

“Every individual should have access to nutritious food, whether they live in a rural, suburban or urban neighborhood, and by expanding our food assistance programs to increase capacity to accept these benefits at farmers’ markets, we can provide healthy food to everyone. “, said Lamont.

While helpful, officials explained that the programs have a ripple effect.

“Plus, supporting farmers’ markets means supporting Connecticut’s agriculture industry and the jobs that industry sustains. I strongly encourage everyone to visit one of our state’s many farmers markets and purchase Connecticut-grown produce,” Lamont said.

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“This improves access to community members who are on SNAP, and it also supports local farmers and Connecticut’s great agricultural economy,” Stadnicki added.

Farmers said that while it helped keep them going, it was also great to see things come full circle.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to help and to be able to provide the opportunity to use the various state programs and double them, because otherwise people wouldn’t be able to buy as much as they did,” Koehley Czech said. . with Forest City Farms.

State leaders say they’ve already seen that impact domestically, with more than $100 million in federal nutritional benefits traded at farmers’ markets last year.

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

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