NJ Farmers Markets are SNAP-ing into Action
At the end of March, the State of New Jersey announced that it would be expanding SNAP benefit payments to over 205,000 SNAP households to help families purchase food through the current pandemic. In addition to these enhanced benefit amounts, the state has issued Pandemic-EBT to households with children who normally receive free or reduced price school meals. With this surge of SNAP benefits and the expected increase of SNAP applicants resulting from COVID-19, it is evident that our food dollars are of utmost importance and we are all working to stretch them as far as we can.
Farmers Markets in the Garden State Good Food Network are stepping up to help New Jersey residents do just that by continuing operations with social distancing and safety protocols in place, and by offering the Good Food Buck SNAP-doubling program.
Our partners are implementing a wide range of safety measures to make the farmers market shopping experience safe for everyone, and City Green is providing support and technical assistance for these efforts. City Green’s Food Access team has been in continual communication with the Farmers Market Coalition and the Nutrition Incentive Hub to gather the most up to date information and best practices from farmers markets nationwide. Markets will be equipping all staff, volunteers, and vendors, with masks and gloves and providing hand-washing or sanitizing stations and frequent washing of equipment. Vendors will be spaced further apart, and 6-foot social distancing markings will be employed to encourage adequate and safe spacing between customers and vendors.
Farmer Shaun Ananko at Grow it Green Morristown shared, “We will be wearing masks, gloves, using round amounts so we don’t handle change, have different people handling produce and handling checkout, people not touching produce, pre-packing amounts, not having volunteers, limiting the number of shoppers, possibly using online ordering, sanitizing bins, and washing hands frequently.” All of our partners are taking similar precautions, and farmers markets will prove to be one of the safest and lowest-risk grocery shopping experiences that New Jersey has to offer.
City Green is also excited to be the recipient of New Jersey Pandemic Relief grant funds, a portion of which will be redistributed to Garden State Good Food Network Farmers Market partners for their individual COVID-19 response efforts. This supplemental funding for partners is a welcomed addition to the “Good Food Buck” incentive funds provided by New Jersey Health Initiatives and other private foundations. Together, these efforts will keep our consumers safe, make healthy food more affordable, and support our local farmers. The power of partnerships and dedication of our communities to keep food on everyone’s tables are a silver lining to this public health crisis, and show how together we can use creative solutions to overcome difficult obstacles.
About the Grantee
City Green is a 501(c)3 urban farming and gardening organization, based in Clifton, New Jersey working to revitalize New Jersey communities through agriculture, educational programming, and food access initiatives.