Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Food Tokens as Incentives to Local Residents

In the July 13th edition of the Portland Observer there was an article about the new Kings Farmers Market titled "Food Tokens Boost Buying Power. The Kings Farmers Market is located at Northeast Seventh Avenue and Wygant Street and is every Sunday through September 27th.

The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, in conjunction with the Portland Farmers Market, has established an incentive program to benefit low income residents who live in northeast and north Portland. They wanted to find a way to allow those in need to have access to the fresh fruits and vegetables available at the Kings Farmers Market. 

The program is called the Foodshare Fund Northeast incentive program and, according to the article, will benefit the residents of north and northeast Portland who are already receiving assistance from the food stamp program. They will be provided tokens that are paid for by donations from residents and businesses. When they get to the farmers market the Foodshare Fund Northeast will supplement the food stamps with a dollar-for-dollar match. The example the article gives is if an Oregon Trail card user purchases $10 they would receive an additional $5 in tokens to spend on food. The tokens are only to be used for fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, fish, poultry and food producing plants.

One of the big supporters in this effort is the Alberta Co-op Grocery. They have decided to match the donations and turn those donations into the foundation for the fund according to the Co-op marketing manager Jocelyn Furbush. 

Anyone from any community is able to contribute financially or by volunteering. 

Many other farmers markets have been inspired by this effort and have jumped on board with similar programs. Here in Portland, the Lents International Farmers market has recently joined the effort.

To learn more go to necoalition.org or to portlandobserver.com

~Leslie Kobyluck

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