|Berkshire Agricultural Ventures Expands SNAP Program With Grants|
|03:31PM / Wednesday, June 21, 2023|
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Berkshire Agriculture Ventures (BAV) has awarded over $140,000 in grants to support SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Access Program) matching programs at ten Berkshire-area farmers markets.
This financial assistance plays a role in bolstering food equity and ensuring that all community members have access to fresh, local, and nutrient-dense food, especially at a time when SNAP benefits nation-wide have been cut to pre-pandemic levels, according to a press release.
Through BAV's Market Match Fund, an economic development and food access program, funding is provided to farmers markets to enhance the effectiveness of SNAP benefits throughout the Berkshire-Taconic region. BAV's grants enable awarded farmers markets to implement a $1-for-$1 SNAP match program, doubling the purchasing power of SNAP at participating farmers markets. Beneficiaries can withdraw $30 in SNAP and receive an additional $30 in match, for a total of $60 to spend.
The following farmers markets received a 2023 grant from BAV's Market Match Fund: North Adams Farmers Market; Williamstown Farmers Market; Pittsfield Farmers Market; West Stockbridge Farmers Market; Lee Farmers Market; Great Barrington Farmers Market; Sheffield Farmers Market; Millerton Farmers Market; New Milford Farmers Market and Berkshire Grown Winter Farmers Markets.
In 2022 the Market Match Fund was launched as a pilot project to test the effectiveness of centralizing fundraising efforts for SNAP matching programs at Berkshire-area farmers markets. According to a press release, within a year, the project successfully enhanced farmers markets' operational efficiency, boosted revenue opportunities for local farms, all while ensuring consistent, affordable access to locally produced food for low-income households.
Last year the Market Match Fund served more than 4,500 SNAP beneficiaries and generated over $200,000 in SNAP sales for local farms attending partner markets. This year BAV anticipates partner farmers markets will experience a significant increase in SNAP usage due to the federal cut to SNAP allotments nation-wide. To ensure the community need was met in year two of the program, this past March BAV launched a crowdfunding campaign which received an outpouring of support with over $40,000 raised for this program.
2023 Market Match Fund corporate and foundation sponsors include: Greylock Federal Credit Union, The Feigenbaum Foundation, The Prospect Hill Foundation, The Josephine and Louise Crane Foundation, The Berkshire Bank Foundation, Guardian Life Insurance of America, Adams Community Bank, and to all the generous individuals who have made contributions.
To support the Market Match Fund and help expand food access across the Berkshire-Taconic region, visit BAV's website: www.berkshireagventures.org