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SNAP Usage Skyrockets at Mass Farmers Markets
This season, there were $1,000 in SNAP sales on the opening day alone!” The statewide numbers not only bear this out but tell an even bigger story. In 2016, Massachusetts residents spent about $470,000 in SNAP dollars at farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and CSAs throughout the state. At the end of September 2017, six months into the program, the MA Department of Transitional Assistance (the agency that manages SNAP/HIP funding) reports that residents had already spent $1.7 million on fresh produce at participating farm vendors throughout the state, almost triple the
Earlier this Year, the state legislature increased funding and made other changes to the Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). These changes allowed SNAP recipients to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers markets and CSAs, while receiving SNAP matching funds up to $80 Six months into the program, from the state (depending on residents had already spent $1.7 household size). million on fresh produce at farmers As a result, The markets, farm stands, mobile Food Project’s SNAP-accessible markets, and CSAs throughout farmers markets the state, almost triple the amount in Lynn and budgeted for the entire year. Boston have seen significant increases in the number of customers amount budgeted for who are able to purchase fresh, healthy the entire year. More produce. than 30,000 households “Recent changes to HIP funding have taken advantage have greatly expanded access to of the benefit so far, fresh, healthy produce for everyone;” providing their families said J. Harrison, The Food Project’s with healthy food and Executive Director. “In 2006, The Food Massachusetts farmers Project became one of the first farms with increased sales. in the state to accept SNAP benefits The Food Project saw electronically at the Central Square such an increase in Farmers Market in Lynn—SNAP sales demand that we tested were about $1,000 for the entire year. a new farmers market
in West Lynn. While Lynn’s Central Square Farmers Market has been operating for over a decade, the West Lynn location was added for July and August to broaden access for Lynn residents who found it difficult to get to the Central Square location. The market was made possible through the hard work of Ward 6 City Councilor, Pete Capuano, and Director of Lynn Parks and Recreation, Lisa Nerich, who aided in securing the market’s location. Lynn residents who want to use their SNAP dollars to eat healthier food year-round will soon to be able to do just that. To accommodate the increased demand for fresh, healthy produce in the community, The Food Project is adding a winter market starting on November 18 that will take place at the Lynn YMCA. The new SNAP/HIP-accessible Lynn Winter Farmers Market will operate every third Saturday of the month from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m., and run until May 19, 2018.
To learn more about HIP and find other farmers markets that accept SNAP benefits, visit www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/hip.htm or call 1-800-645-8333.
Q&A with Dirt Crew and Root Crew
Meet four of The Food Project’s 65 young people with Dirt Crew and Root Crew for the academic year! Get to know more about Tate G., AJ H., Rose A., and JC R. through their own
words. Dirt Crew and Root Crew work most Saturdays and have extra work opportunities after school if they choose. These young people lead volunteers on the farms, support
the farmers markets, organize and lead Grow Well, Eat Well, Be Well community workshops, and have challenging conversations about navigating identity and inequality. continued inside!
Q&A with Dirt Crew and Root Crew
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Q: What would you like to see changed in the food system? A: One thing I would like to see changed in the food
system is awareness about food insecurity and that it is happening in areas around you, even if you might not see it—so just being aware of other people and looking out for ways you can help.
Q: What part of your work with The Food Project has made you feel powerful in the food system?
Tate G., 17, Winchester, Greater Boston Dirt Crew
Working at hunger relief organizations because it is a time to see how all of the hard work that you do on the farm is actually put to use and you can see others eating the food and benefiting from all of the hard work.
Q: How has The Food Project impacted your life? A: Within the two years I have been at The Food Project, it’s impacted my life
a lot. I am more of a leader. I know more about farming and oppression. It’s changed my views on many different things. Now I know how to incorporate different vegetables into my meals. I see different sides of arguments so I am more likely to have better conversations. I engage with more people and talk to strangers about what I am doing. I’m interested in agriculture now. It’s not going to be something that I study in college but it will be something that I’ll use in my life if I have a garden or something like that.
AJ H., 17, Roxbury, Greater Boston Root Crew
Q: What do you love, day-to-day, at The Food Project? A: What I love is the farm work—being active outside and having conversations with people while working. Sometimes we have these really deep conversations with each other while we’re working together. Also, games during water breaks are always fun. I like seeing people smile and talking to each other because it brightens up a person’s day.
Q: How has The Food Project changed your outlook? A: At first, I really didn’t think I could make a difference—that I could impact
someone’s day, or help somebody—even in a small way. The Food Project has helped me look at things differently—to value friendship and to value the work I am doing. It helps me understand that I MATTER and that I am making a difference.
Q: What is one thing that you would like to see changed in the local, neighborhood food system?
Rose A., 17, Lynn North Shore Dirt Crew
I would like to see more community gardens. I feel like there is a lot of land in Lynn that isn’t being used for things that it should be. For example, they just built a new dollar store and something else could have gone there, instead of just another building—another store, because there are already so many stores around it. We deserve more community gardens.
Q: Why did you decide to stay at The Food Project? A: I learned a lot from when I first started. Right off the bat, I started building relationships which is something I didn’t really expect to do at a job. Also, the workshops really opened my eyes and got me thinking about the real world and stuff that is going on in my community. I always wanted to keep going, learning more, and getting more out of it. That’s why I kept applying, kept learning, and kept getting skills from it.
Q: When did you first realize the impact of you growing food? A: When I first worked at a farmers market. Before that, we always did a lot of JC R., 17, Lynn, North Shore Root Crew
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weeding and harvesting. I would ask, “What are we doing all this weeding for?” When I actually saw people coming from my community to buy food that I had harvested and planted, it really showed me I was doing all that hard work for a reason. When I saw people smiling at me, thanking me for everything I was doing, and exchanging conversation—it showed me there was a purpose to everything.
Youth. Food. Community.
Meet Dudley Neighborhood Build-a-Gardener, Sharyn
Sharyn Moss’s Garden is admired by neighbors and rightly so. Anyone who has tried their hand at gardening knows that keeping a garden bountiful and healthy is one thing, but keeping a garden tidy, is another story. Sharyn has two beds next to her house that are flourishing and very well-kept. In August, when we visited, she had an abundance of basil, lettuce, curry, tomatoes, bok choy, rosemary, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and more. Her impressive squash setup is planted in a raisedbed and then branches out in many directions using stumps to hold up the bungalow of summer squash she was cultivating. Sharyn had her Build-a-Garden constructed three years ago, right around the time that she was retiring
from her position of 21 years as the Director of Operations at the Boston Public Health Commission. When asked about the importance of her garden, she shares, “As a retiree, you’re living on a fixed income. It’s important to save money. As a gardener, I know I don’t have to pay for lettuce or other vegetables and I keep increasing the kinds I grow.” She remarks proudly about how her friends consider her their “garden guru.” Sharyn and her neighbor experiment with making pestos and she freezes food to store through the winter.
The Food Project has been building raised-beds for 10 years in Boston and eight years in Lynn. This fall, 12 new beds will be built in Dorchester, where Sharyn lives. When someone applies for a Build-a-Garden, they receive support on picking a site in their yard that is best suited for a garden. This ensures that the plants receive adequate sunlight, there is access to water, and there is enough room on all sides of the raised-bed to easily maintain it. Next, Dirt Crew or Root Crew builds the bed, fills it with compost, Sharyn Moss, and listens to stories from Dorchester Build-a-Gardener the person (or family) about why they wanted a garden. Additionally, all new gardeners receive free seedlings in their first year, our Growing Guide, Grow Well gardening workshops, and support via phone, email, and open As a retiree, you’re living hours held at on a fixed income. It’s the Dudley Greenhouse. It important to save money. is not unusual As a gardener, I know for gardeners, like Sharyn, I don’t have to pay for to apply for lettuce or other vegetables a second bed after their first and I keep increasing the successful year kinds I grow. or two.
Thanksgiving Farm Share
Enjoy sustainably grown produce for the holidays with our Thanksgiving Farm Share. The share will contain between 40 - 50 pounds of produce, including: winter squash, root vegetables, leeks, popcorn, potatoes, and much more! Cost: $125 Pick-up date: Saturday, November 18, 2017, noon to 5 p.m. Pick-up location: the barn at Codman Community Farm (58 Codman Road, Lincoln, MA)
Purchase a share today! csa.thefoodproject.org
The Food Project 3
J.’s Corner On september 15-17, we held our second annual Lenore Travis Youth Retreat at Camp Hayward on Cape Cod, where 51 youth in Dirt Crew and Root Crew joined 14 staff and alumni to train and prepare for the coming year’s work. The weekend began with dinner and an exploration of our founder Ward Cheney’s invocation, “For love of land and people.” Youth, staff, and Board Chair Linda McQuillan shared what the work we do together means to us— personally and collectively. As you can imagine, 65 people came up with 65 diverse thoughts on what, “for love of land and people,” means to them. However, some common themes emerged, including that the farms are “a safe space to feel connected to each other.” Others
mentioned that the land is a place to “share and feel unconditional support and love,” and to “persevere and grow with everyone, for everyone.” The people at The Food Project remind me each day of why I’m proud to work here, and it was humbling to be among a group as thoughtful and committed as our youth, staff, and board. This annual retreat is named after our dear friend and trustee, Lenore Travis, who lost her life in 2015. Lenore’s spirit of generosity, caring for all, and belief in the importance of bringing young people together from diverse backgrounds to grow and learn on the land, guided us throughout the weekend. We begin this academic year filled
Learn. Grow. Connect. at the Winter Institute
Learn: The Food Project’s youth development & sustainable agriculture models Grow: Workshops on food & social justice Connect: Join peers from across the world
February 1 – 3, 2018 Cost: $450
—With love of land and people, J. Harrison, Executive Director Please help us continue this important experience by contributing today:
Boston 555 Dudley Street, Dorchester Lincoln 10 Lewis Street, Lincoln North Shore 120 Munroe Street, Lynn thefoodproject.org
More information? http://thefoodproject.org/institute
Happenings is published three times a year to inform our readers
about activities in our community. The newsletter design, graphics,
and editorial are contributed by Amanda Chin. Additional editorial contributed by Ross Condit and J. Harrison.
The Food Project’s mission is to create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system.
10 Lewis Street, Lincoln, MA 01773
with inspiration and a commitment to our vision of a world where youth are active leaders, diverse communities feel connected to each other, and everyone has access to fresh, high quality food.