Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said today that a Portland group is getting a $96,000 federal grant to expand access to farmers markets. Cultivating Community will use the money to provide the equipment and staff that will allow SNAP (food stamp) beneficiaries with electronic benefit cards (EBTs) to use their cards at farmers markets. The grant will also allow Cultivating Community to create and promote farm stands in low-income areas and train refugee growers and vendors.
"This is a win for food stamp beneficiaries who will have access to more healthy food and a win for local farmers who will be able to sell more of their products," Pingree said. "It's good for consumers and it's good for the local economy."
Craig Lapine, Executive Director of Cultivating Community, said the federal grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to help the organization expand their work.
"This money is going to mean more families in southern Maine will have access to healthy, local food," Lapine said. "It's going to be a big help in the work we do."
Pingree, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, is the author of the Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, a bill that would expand and extend the Farmers Market Promotion Program, which provided the grant announced today. Pingree's proposal, which was included in a version of the Farm Bill now being considered by Congress, would not only provide funding to promote farmers markets, but would also support grants to buy equipment that would help farmers markets process, distribute and store products.