In the first few weeks with Seacoast Eat Local as the new Director of Programs, there has been a lot to think about: contact lists, budgets and fundraising, preparation for our winter season, board meetings and action groups- just to name a few. It can be hard to focus my energy in one direction some days.
At the markets, all of that quickly falls away. That’s when I see our real work reforming itself clearly in front of me out of the fog of to-do lists and I-wish-we-hads. It’s the work that we all do together– farmers’, shoppers, staff and volunteers– the work of growing our community around a dedication to locally produced, nutritious foods for all.
Anywhere you look, hundreds of stories abound. There are friends running into each other after months of too busy schedules, kids in carriages holding new-to-them vegetables, first-time shoppers learning the ropes, ‘regulars’ chatting with their favorite grower, farmers swapping stories from the latest harvest and mounds of beautiful soon-to-be meals at dozens of tables across the seacoast region.
It’s also where a new story is beginning to emerge for all of us involved with Seacoast Eat Local- the story of our rapidly increasing SNAP/EBT participation. In our second year of dedicated SNAP programming, including accepting benefits and providing matching incentives, we have seen an astounding 80% increase in our participation levels. We know from our dedicated repeat shoppers that all people, regardless of income levels, are both interested in and deserve access to high quality local foods. I’m proud to put my name to an organization that seeks food equality for all, powered by a community of supporters who understand its importance.
As a regular customer, I always looked forward to and planned my Saturdays around the Winter Farmers’ Market schedule. I’m excited to have this same special experience from the ‘other side of the looking glass,’ so to speak, and hope to get to speak to all of you while you stop in for your shopping and socializing.
Director of Programs
To learn more about our SNAP program, visit our website: http://seacoasteatlocal.org/snap/shopwithsnap/
For our Winter Farmers’ Market Schedule: