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Grant from city, Metro allows low-income customers to double their dollars on state-provided Oregon Trail card

COURTESY PHOTO - Allison Necheles of Dirt Rich Farm is one of the new vendors at the year-round Oregon City YFarmers Market.The Oregon City Farmers Market recently received a $10,691 grant from the city and Metro allowing low-income customers to double their SNAP match from $10 to $20.

Oregon City's Double Up Food Bucks program started with just a $5 match from the Farmers Market Fund, founded in 2012 as a charitable companion organization to the Portland Farmers Market and now expanded across the state. SNAP customers now can receive up to $20 in OC market tokens when they use $20 of their supplemental funds on their state-provided Oregon Trail card.

"It's a great time for our SNAP customers to shop the market because of the $20 match," said Jessica Land, OC market manager. "The Metro grant allows customers to use their match on meat, cheese, dairy, plant starts, baked goods, kombucha, veggies, produce, mushrooms, nuts, hummus, etc. It doesn't cover alcohol or hot food prepared on site."

Jessica LandLand said market-provided SNAP tokens can be used the same day or saved for a later market. To get the tokens, customers may check in at the market's information booth between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays at 2051 Kaen Road.

"It's a win-win because not only does it provide additional nutritional food for SNAP users, it also benefits our farmers with increased sales and a growing customer base," Land said.

National Farmers Market Week kicked off Aug. 2, and Fitness Index Advisory Board Member Stella L. Volpe, who chairs the Department of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel University, said farmers markets help stimulate the local economy and provide access to nourishing food. The Portland area ranked in the top 10 nationally for markets per capita.

"Our research-backed Fitness Index rankings reveal how well communities work to achieve healthier and more physically active populations," Volpe said.

Proximity to fresh produce affects healthy eating, and farmers markets play a large role in the accessibility of nourishing food, Volpe said. Farmers markets have been shown to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, especially when paired with nutrition assistance programs like SNAP.

"Eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is the ideal way to make sure your body receives necessary vitamins and minerals to stay healthy," Volpe said. "Planning meals around foods that are in season is a great way to stay healthy and keep variety in your diet. Local farmers markets are just the place to purchase that healthy, seasonal produce."

This year's Community Enhancement Grant Program selection committee met June 25 to review and award 2020-21 proposals. Twelve groups were awarded slightly more than $200,000 using funding from an intergovernmental agreement between Oregon City and Metro and generated by a $1-per-ton surcharge collected at the Metro South Transfer Station on Washington Street.


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