By Himanee Gupta
Summer is the season of abundance for fresh fruits and vegetables. However, for some, rising food prices might make this bounty harder to afford.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market seeks to bridge that gap through several initiatives.
This summer, the market is participating in a partnership between the Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan and Greenwich-based Comfort Food Community that makes $5 vouchers available to CDPHP members for shopping at the farmers’ market. Through the program, participants in CDPHP Medicaid plans can receive up to $100 in vouchers throughout the outdoor market season. The vouchers are redeemable for food items from participating vendors at the farmers’ market. Comfort Food Community representatives distribute vouchers at the market every other Saturday.
This program supplements the market’s year-round EBT token redemption program. Through this program, customers who own an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) card can exchange their SNAP benefits for farmers’ market tokens to purchase fresh foods, including fruit and vegetables, bread and baked goods, meat, fish, and poultry, dairy products, honey and maple products, and value-added foods like soup mixes, sauces, and jams and jellies. Herb plants and plants that produce food are also approved purchases with EBT coins. The market additionally offers SNAP incentive programs, such as FreshConnect, that provide extra coupons or tokens to spend, meaning customers receive more value than they spend. With FreshConnect, for every $5 a customer spends with their EBT benefits, they receive a $2 FreshConnect coupon to spend at the farmers’ market.
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) also offers coupons in the summer months. Through this New York State program, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) participants and seniors can receive $5 coupons to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables at the farmers’ market. Our local WIC office distributes WIC coupons. Saratoga County Office for the Aging distributes senior coupons. Individuals aged 60+ with a limited income may pick up a booklet containing five $5 coupons (limit one per person).
Vendors cannot give change for items purchased with such coupons. However, many will work with you to ensure you receive that the goods you receive are of at least an equal value to the coupons used in making the purchase.
To use FMNP coupons at the market, look for the blue poster at participating vendors’ stalls or simply stop by the market information table for a complete list of farms accepting FMNP coupons. The FMNP season runs from June through October.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at High Rock Park. Find us online at saratogafarmersmarket.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.