Community Foundation funds local Farmers’ Market programs

Market plans to open May 6

The Grand Rapids Farmers’ Market received close to $3,000 from the Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation for their children’s and matching dollar programs. The market plans to open Wednesday, May 6 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You may be familiar with our local Farmers’ Market, located near the intersection of Pokegama Avenue and Golf Course Road. “Think of the Farmers’ Market like all the veggies inside of a Grand Rapids State Bank/T&M marine sandwich,” notes Brianna Spry, Program Administrator at the Community Foundation. As it is with all other businesses, COVID-19 is making everyone rethink and think outside the box.

Jesse Davis, Farmers’ Market board member says, “We are excited to get up and running again to bring fresh local food to the greater Itasca community while supporting local food growers and makers.” For this year Davis adds, “It will be more challenging this year with COVID-19. We are following guidance from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Minnesota Farmers’ Market Association and will implement new practices to protect the health and safety of our customers and vendors while providing our communities with healthy food.”

Some of the changes include installing extra handwashing stations throughout the market and offering online pre-ordering and pick-up options. There will be no food sampling this year, and no eating or drinking in the market; ready-to-eat food and beverages will be available for take-out. Please check out the Grand Rapids Farmers Market Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.

Mighty Matching Dollar SNAP Incentive

This program encourages low-income families receiving SNAP food assistance (food stamps) to purchase fresh local food at the Grand Rapids Farmers' Market by matching their SNAP spending two-to-one. This creates new customers for small local farmers who often struggle to find new customers. Approximately ten percent of Greater Itasca residents receive SNAP.

SNAP recipients go to the card reader, swipe their card, tell the operator how much they want to spend, and receive wooden tokens to spend at any farmers' stand that sells SNAP-eligible foods. For every dollar, up to $10, that a SNAP recipient 'purchases' in tokens, they receive an additional business card-sized Mighty Matching Dollar coupon and a Market Bucks coupon (through a state-funded program) that work just like tokens and cash at farmers' booths. The farmers turn these tokens and coupons in at the end of market and are reimbursed.

Last year, over $28,000 of local food was sold to low-income families through this program. Outside of the Metro and Rochester, the Grand Rapids Market has had the most successful (in terms of total sales) SNAP program in Minnesota for seven years and this program is the reason why.

Funding was provided from the Edgar and Hannah Hetteen Fund.

Power of Produce Program

(For the safety of young market customers and vendors, this program will be delayed until further notice.)

Commonly called PoP, the Power of Produce program is a way to encourage children at the market to make healthy choices and learn more about different types of locally grown produce. Each Market day children ages 2-12 can come to Market and receive a $2 coupon to purchase their very own fruits or vegetables. They learn to navigate what's in season and interact with the farmer who grew their produce.

Just like when children are involved with growing fruits and veggies, they are far more likely to try and continue to request produce they have chosen previously. This program is really about kids taking ownership of their healthy choices so that for the six months when the Market isn't open, they'll still be emboldened to try new healthy produce.

“We are so grateful for support from the Community Foundation as our market is funded solely through vendor dues, and we rely on community support to offer additional programs like this that benefit and enrich the community,” concludes Davis.

Funding was provided from the Endowed Sharing Fund

The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area – and the world – a better place to live. We invite you to become part of the good work we do, and to include us in the conversation with your financial or estate planner to answer the question “What good do you want your money to do?” For more information, schedule a visit by calling (218) 999-9100.

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350 NW 1st Ave, Suite E  | Grand Rapids, MN 55744  |  218-999-9100

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