This summer, Seacoast Eat Local and several of its community partners will be offering transportation assistance for low income individuals and families to travel to area farmers’ markets. This effort will be made possible through a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the help of five participating partners: Strafford County Community Action Program, UNH Cooperative Extension Nutrition Connections, Seacoast Family Food Pantries, Seymour Osman Community Center of Dover and COAST Bus.
In the last year, Seacoast Eat Local and its partners have received feedback that traveling to farmers’ markets can be a costly barrier to purchasing local fruits and vegetables. Some families would need to spend nearly as much to travel to farmers’ markets by bus as they have to spend on local fruits and vegetables once they arrive there. After some initial trial transportation projects, Seacoast Eat Local worked with its partners to develop a program and seek funds from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. Thanks to NHCF funding and the non-profit discount provided by COAST Bus, over 700 individuals will be provided bus passes between June and November.
“This is a win for everyone,” said Seacoast Eat Local Director of Programs, Jillian Hall. “When more individuals and families have the opportunity to come to farmers’ markets, we know that their health and diets are benefiting and that our local farmers and food economy are also benefiting. This is a huge step forward in our mission to help all residents access local foods and we are proud to be able to partner with local service providers in this way.”
Once at the farmers’ market, families and individuals receiving SNAP assistance can use their benefits at the farmers’ market and receive incentives to help stretch their dollars. There are also staff members and volunteers available to help first-time market goers navigate the farmers’ market and learn to use the foods they purchase. These services are provided by Seacoast Eat Local and the financial assistance of the federal FINI Program (Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives) through Wholesome Wave and the New Hampshire Food Bank, as well as support from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Thomas W. Haas Fund, The Kittyhawk Revocable Trust and SATYA.
To participate in the program, bus passes must be received from a partnering service provider. More information about SNAP Acceptance Services and Incentives can be found on our dedicated website, www.seacoasteatlocal.org/snap/shopwithsnap.