One of our country’s most pressing health challenges is the combination of poor diet and inactivity. Nutrition assistance programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) are tools to address these problems; the USDA programs reach one in four Americans in the course of a year. The program reaching the most people is called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP for short.
Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District’s Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market is the newest source in the area for people to gain access to fresh fruits and vegetables through use of their SNAP benefits. By welcoming SNAP cards, THPRD’s Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market (CMFM), located in the heart of Cedar Mill on NW Cornell Road just west of Murray, is making available a wide range of healthful foods to a large number of locals within an easy walk, drive, bike or bus ride of the market, people who otherwise may not have easy access to such fresh, local goodness.
CMFM applied for the program in the spring, gained USDA authorization for the program and then purchased an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) machine and wireless service through a USDA authorized vendor. Now, during the market’s regular hours (8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday through October) market volunteer Megan Bruce will help anyone with SNAP benefits to access them for use at the market. By simply stopping in at the market’s information booth, a card-holder can run the SNAP card (also known in Oregon as the “Oregon Trail card”) through the wireless EBT machine, debiting the desired amount from his/her account and receiving wooden tokens imprinted with the market’s logo on one side as well as “$1” and “Eligible Foods Only” on the other. The tokens can be spent at the market on fruits, vegetables, grains, baked goods, meats, dairy products, and even on plants that produce food.
With the addition of SNAP benefits at the market this year, vendors, staff, and volunteers of THPRD’s Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market are looking forward to helping lots of new guests at the market. Anyone with questions is welcome to call Dina Gross, the market’s manager, at 503-913-7733. And if you have friends who don’t know about this new service, be sure to pass the information.
In other market news, the Blueberry Bash was so much fun in July and the blueberry season promises to be a good, long one, so the market will celebrate again on August 7th with a morning visit from Ima Blueberry and more prize-drawings, with prizes such as half-flats of blueberries and other goodies donated by the vendors, as well as market gift tokens. Later in August, look for news of the Cedar Mill Talent Show. Stop in at the market for an entry form and more information.