AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) – A program that helps low-income families get access to fresh food is getting help from the Augusta community.
“We’re a diversified mix of vegetable vendors, honey, milk, bread, all local products, meat, that have been produced by Maine farmers.” said Dalziel Lewis.
The Mill Park Farmers Market in Augusta has been operating for more than ten years and is sponsored by Maine General Health.
“Food plays such a valuable role in keeping people healthy and also the economic vitality of the region.” said Maine General Health CEO Chuck Hays.
Not only is the market a win-win for farmers and shoppers getting fresh, healthy food, but for the last three years, the market has been matching SNAP participant purchases dollar for dollar with their Maine Harvest Bucks Program.
“That extra, ‘oh, I’ve still got 30 dollars in vegetables,’ and it just makes such a difference.” said Heather Whittier a snap recipient.
When the market was facing a gap in grant-funding for the program, many businesses in the community, including Kennebec Savings Bank, stepped up and donated money so shoppers wouldn’t miss out on a bonus many have come to depend on.
“It’s wonderful and we’ve been really thrilled with the community support and the reaction. Kennebec Savings stepped right in and fulfilled our desired goal.” said Lewis.
“People pull together here to help each other. Certainly when you see something like this that’s so critical to the health of some of our under served folks in the SNAP program really pull together to get it done, it’s incredible.” said Hays.
“I think anytime you can double the amount of food in a low to moderate income household and pay the farmers for their hard work, it’s a win-win situation, so we were happy that we could provide funding for them for this gap period.” said CEO Andrew Silsby.