This week, Mary Diehl shares with us her impressions of Opening Day, and what she bought with her SNAP dollars.
Greetings! Opening day has come and gone, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about my first experience this season with the Everybody Eats program. Since the market opened at the end of May, I made a point of saving $10 of my SNAP benefits to purchase tokens. With the match from Everybody Eats, I was then able to shop the market with $20 worth of tokens in hand.
As you are probably aware, the harvest this year has been early. Cherries and strawberries were in abundance, as well as a fine selection of asparagus. I purchased fruits and vegetable from several of my favorite vendors, such as Baird Family Orchards and Simplicity Gardens, as well as shopping with several vendors I hadn’t met before.
One thing I had totally forgotten about is the fact that when you use your tokens to shop, you are only able to use exact dollar amounts. Not a big deal if you remember to bring some loose change, but I did not! I’m happy to say that the vendors were all very accommodating when I explained my situation, and everyone helped me either round my purchases up or down as needed. The lovely gentleman at Abundant Fields Farm even gave me a deal on his very last basket of snap peas so that I didn’t waste 50 cents! I only hope he understood how truly grateful I was for his consideration.
Another perk to having SNAP benefits is the ability to buy edible plant starts and seeds. The lovely ladies at Lil’ Starts graciously answered all my questions about their business and what types of items they are bringing to the market. I purchased a small rosemary plant, which I have added to my collection of items that are growing in containers on our balcony. I also credit the SNAP program with my new knowledge of gardening, as it helped me find my way to an excellent class that is put on by the Oregon Food Bank.
All the vendors I spoke with at the market were enthusiastic about accepting SNAP tokens, and pleased that the market is able to give folks such as myself a helping hand with their healthy shopping options. I hope everyone in the community will continue to support Everybody Eats so that more families can benefit from this great program!
Upon returning home, my extremely full shopping bag included the following – strawberries, cherries, peaches, carrots, cucumber, asparagus, snap peas, three colors of baby potatoes, and my cute little rosemary plant! A most excellent addition to my weekly meal plan.
One of our terrific volunteers, Mary Diehl, a SNAP user, writes about her experience utilizing our SNAP matching program to find new ways of bringing healthy, local food into her home.
Greetings to all my fellow Montavilla Farmers Market enthusiasts! My name is Mary, and I am a recipient of SNAP benefits. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and is often better known by the term Food Stamps.
Over the years SNAP benefits have been an important part of keeping my family fed. Since first receiving them in 1978, I have seen the program go through many changes while maintaining one consistent theme – it’s REALLY hard to make your benefits stretch an entire month, especially if you hope to feed your family nutritious meals.
Luckily for me, and others in my situation, things have gotten better! Two years ago I became aware of programs offered by some of our local Famers Markets which give a dollar-to-dollar match on SNAP benefits, up to a specified amount. At that time Montavilla’s program, Everybody Eats, did a $5 weekly match when I used my benefits to purchase tokens. Last August they were able to increase the amount to a $10 per week match. That works out to an extra $40 per month that I can spend on locally produced food, just by shopping at my local Farmers Market!
With the start of the season fast approaching, I am eagerly awaiting the chance to shop for all my favorites AND try some new flavors. Last season I discovered my now favorite way to prepare kale. Who can say what food adventure might be on the horizon? The tiny container garden on my balcony barely has enough room to keep me supplied in fresh spinach, with a few strawberries thrown in just for fun. While that is a great start to a delicious salad, I really look forward to adding more colors to my plate.
If you are one of those fortunate enough to have extra funds, I hope you will consider making a contribution to help keep this wonderful program going. Thanks to Everybody Eats, folks like myself are able to include healthier choices in our meal planning while supporting our local farmers. Everybody Eats then becomes Everybody Wins!
We are very pleased to announce that long-time Market Manager Gretchan Jackson is back this season as our new Development Director! Take a few moments to read about Gretchan’s time away, and what she hopes to accomplish this season and beyond…
As one of the neighborhood founders, and Market Manager from the start, after eight seasons of establishment and growth, I took a season away from the market, but this spring I am excited to begin my new role as Development Director for the Montavilla Farmers Market!
Amanda Cross, who became Montavilla Farmers Market’s newest manager last year, trained up in all of the aspects of running the market each week. Handing over the reigns to Amanda made me realize the market could survive without me! It was fantastic to provide support remotely while I was gone as well.
In my time away, I departed on a 50-day driving adventure over the past summer with my son that took me to 20 states. More recently, in March, I embarked on a 15-day walking trip to temples 1-23 of the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan and survived! I was finally able to step away from the near-constant checking of email; running a market with over 75 potential folks who may need support at any given time requires a diligence beyond words.
Now back at home, I am finally sifting through and resolving all of our household tasks that were always tabled to accomplish at “another time.” Working from home, and having a less than 40-hour paid work week, allows great advances in the way our family lives. I highly recommend it!
My time apart from the daily ins and outs of running the market also allowed me to experience the market as a customer, mostly, and made me realize that it can be challenging to make it to market each week. In that time, I missed all of the summer crops and my local farmers and producers, customers and volunteers, board and staff. And I missed out on the intense heat—our summer travels were mostly 60’s temps!
In all, I’ve come to see how the market can be like any other inciting event that goes on in Portland each week if you let it—hard to make the time to go to. It’s only when you start to rely on the beautiful products that our local farms and producers bring each week, does it really solidify the connection to real, seasonal food. This is when the magic begins.
On my new role: In running a nonprofit there are many, many tasks that board members (read volunteers with staff-like roles) end up doing. Because they are busy professionals in their own lives, and there is only so much time within a calendar year, many projects need additional time. My new role as Development Director was formed to address this challenge, helping the organization to attain its goals and meet the needs of the community. It’s a very dynamic role and I love being able to participate in this way.
I encourage you to reach out if you have any ideas, feedback, or time.
We were very excited yesterday to learn that the USDA has awarded a very sizable grant to help area farmers markets to continue their generous SNAP/EBT matching programs! The grant was awarded to the Farmers Market Fund, a Portland Based charitable 501 (c) 3 dedicated to providing low-income, elderly and under-served populations in the region greater access to healthy, locally grown food by supporting farmers markets in Oregon. As beneficiaries of this grant, which will be available in 2016 and 2017, the Montavilla Farmers Market will be able to offer our $10 match for at least several more years. We couldn’t be happier to bring this news to you, our neighbors, and we can’t wait to see you all on May 31st, opening day in the 2015 season!
Like a cosmic purple carrot, Michelle‘s roots and passion for Montavilla run deep. Her husband, Casey, can trace Montavilla back generations on his family tree. Grandpa Ken still farms three backyards here. Michelle‘s first introduction to the Montavilla Farmers’ Market (MFM) was as a sales associate for Rogue Creamery in 2010. The positive attitude and camaraderie of the vendors stood out from the other markets where she worked.
That summer Casey and Michelle married on top of Mt. Tabor. In 2011, they moved to the breathtakingly beautiful Columbia River Gorge. There Michelle was immersed in re-building the local food system as the Executive Director of a 5-county local food non-profit called Gorge Grown Food Network. She worked closely with farmers, chefs, families and businesses to sustain several vibrant food programs. Being a vendor at the MFM had sparked a fire in Michelle that couldn’t be put out. She had become a full-blown community food advocate.