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Farmers markets set to benefit from New Seasons

Grocery store offers grants to supplement shoppers on budget


by: PHOTO COURTESY: JACKIE HAMMOND-WILLIAMS - Crowds pack the Oregon City Farmers Market, which is open year round downtown on Main Street.Corporations usually don’t give cash to their competition, but New Seasons Market recently handed out checks to support more than three dozen regional farmers markets.

The Portland grocery store group provided $91,000 in grants to 36 nonprofit organizations to support small farmers and increase access to food for people in poverty, which set a funding record since the annual program launched in 2007.

A majority of the grant funds will match Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) dollars at 29 of the 36 grantees that are farmers markets throughout the Portland-Vancouver area.

Also known as food stamp multipliers, the extra dollars will make it easier for low-income shoppers to stretch their budgets by buying fresh produce.

By putting the federal government’s funding back into the pockets of local farmers, New Seasons also benefits by fostering good sources for natural food, said Oregon City Market Manager Jackie Hammond-Williams.

“They get that big picture and that’s just astounding,” Hammond-Williams said. “It blows me away that a grocery store would do this, and it shows that they really walk their talk in terms of serving the community with good-quality products and reaching out to local organizations that do good things.”

New Seasons spokeswoman Claudia Knotek said her company has always wanted to help Oregon’s regional food community thrive. Since its founding 14 years ago, New Seasons has had the twin goals of strengthening neighborhoods and helping family farmers connect with the community, and the grant fund that has distributed a total of $538,650 to date has become a way to achieve these goals.

“The steady growth of the fund has meant New Seasons can work with even more great organizations,” Knotek said. “Farmers markets to us are an incredibly vital part of the community where farmers and consumers can get that face-to-face connection.”

Farmers often are invited to offer samples at New Seasons, which carries a number of natural products so its stores can be WIC certified, meaning low-income parents shopping there have access to another state-sponsored program. New Seasons annually donates 10 percent of its after-tax profits to local nonprofits, in part with this special fund to organizations helping promote food security, nutrition and economic stability. In addition to farmers markets, New Seasons awarded funding to nonprofits working to improve the viability of small local producers through mentoring and education.

Hammond-Williams said that New Seasons was the first to approach her OC market five years ago, and the program has since benefited more than 2,000 shoppers.

New Seasons started with a $1,500 match and has increased its annual contribution incrementally over the years to $3,000.

When its matching funds have run out for a given year, Oregon City’s Rotary Club Foundation and Providence Willamette Falls have stepped up with supplemental donations the past few years.

“By New Seasons stepping up, it opened the door for other organizations to also be a big help,” Hammond-Williams said. “Oregon City has many income-challenged families living on a very thin budget, and it’s a powerful thing to consistently hear that people are able to feed their families better and healthier food because of the matching-dollars program.”

Every year, dozens of low-income shoppers at the OC market submit thank you comments for the program. New Seasons employees have enjoyed receiving comments from farmers market customers appreciating the fact that they’re able to buy more fresh food on a limited income.

“It definitely affirms our belief that the program is really valuable,” Knotek said. “It’s a win-win in our mind, and we are so amazed at the creativity of the markets.”

Oregon City Farmers Market shoppers will often ask when New Seasons is planning to open nearby. Knotek always lets neighbors know “never say never,” but the New Seasons “sustainable” expansion plan has already allocated its two stores for 2015 elsewhere.

New Seasons grantees

  • Camas Farmers Market — $1,500 toward their Fresh Match program
  • Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market — $3,000 for Adelante Agricultura subsidies and one student intern
  • Chefs Collaborative Portland — $2,500 sponsorship of the 2014 Farmer-Chef Connection
  • Cully Community Market — $1,000 toward SNAP Match program and subsidizing underrepresented and emerging vendors
  • Damascus Fresh and Local Market — $500 toward cooking demos
  • Farmers Market Funds — $13,000 toward programs allocating SNAP match and advertising brochures
  • FoodWaves Apprentice Program — $1,650 to provide support for two high school interns; $675 to build four educational beds at the farm
  • Friends of Family Farmers — $1,000 to sponsor their fundraising dinner
  • Grain Gathering — $2,500 sponsorship of their conference
  • Hillsdale Farmers Market — $500 to purchase starts to hand out on the first May market day
  • Hollywood Farmers Market — $3,000 to contribute to the Fresh Funds program in the 2014 market season
  • Lake Oswego Farmers Market — $1,500 toward SNAP match program
  • Lents International Farmers Market — $5,000 toward SNAP match
  • Lloyd Farmers Market — $1,500 to continue the $10 voucher program
  • Mercy Corps Northwest — $4,000 dollars to provide program participants with training and support in direct marketing and retailing
  • Milwaukie Sunday Farmers Market — $2,500 to SNAP match
  • Montavilla Farmers Market — $3,500 to SNAP match
  • Moreland Farmers Market — $3,000 to SNAP match
  • Oregon Farmers Market Association — $500 for sponsorship of annual meeting
  • OHSU Farmers Market — $2,100 to SNAP match
  • Oregon City Farmers Market — $3,000 to SNAP match
  • Salmon Creek Farmers Market — $750 to SNAP match
  • St. Johns Farmers Market — $3,500 to continue voucher program to initiate SNAP match
  • Tigard Area Farmers Market — $3,500 to SNAP match
  • Vancouver Farmers Market — $2,000 to continue Healthy Families produce program
  • Village Gardens/Food Works — $1,500 to support the Village Gardens Farmers Market
  • Washington County — a total of $22,500 for Market Sprouts programs and summer food drives at Beaverton, Forest Grove, Hillsboro and North Plains farmers markets
  • Wilsonville Farmers Market — $1,000 to continue food pantry
  • Woodstock Farmers Market — $3,000 for SNAP match
  • Zenger Farm — $3,000 for expanding intern training program


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