Last summer, the Beacon Farmers' Market welcomed a new program: Green for Greens was introduced as part of a wider program to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables sold at the Beacon Farmers' Market. With Green for Greens, people enrolled in food assistance programs - including SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often referred to as "food stamps" but dedicated to nutritional food), WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, servicing low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of five), or FMNP (the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program) - received extra vouchers to use at the Beacon Farmers' Market..
Just four months after the launch, the program ran out of funds due to high popularity. The program will be available again for the 2017 growing season, but this year, the Beacon Farmers' Market is raising money in advance to keep the program funded after its allotted budget runs out. The "Soup for Greens Fundraiser" is this Sunday, February 12, at the Beacon Farmers' Market's indoor/winter location at the VFW Building (aka the Memorial Building at the intersection of Main Street and Rt. 52, near the diner) from 10 am to 2 pm.
Helanna Bratman (who also leads the Green Teens), started the Green for Greens program with the idea to double the benefits that recipients receive from assistance programs, in order to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables. The Green for Greens matching program is unique to Beacon and is not yet available in other communities.
What Is Available At This Fundraiser?
The Beacon Farmers' Market will be selling an array of hearty winter soups including meaty, vegan and vegetarian varieties for $10, to be enjoyed on the spot. There are take-away $10 options for people who bring their own containers (for freezing or eating later). For $25, supporters can choose a hand-crafted ceramic bowl made by local artisans, including Virginia Piazza, who frequently has a booth at the market.
For those who cannot attend the event but want to pay a bowl of soup forward, there is an online donation option available here. Donors will receive a soup recipe, and a lucky person in need will receive a bowl of soup.
Where Do The Funds Go, And How Do People In Need Find Out About It?
All proceeds collected from selling soup and bowls will go to the Green for Greens Double Up Program, a program that doubles the amount of money available from each respective food assistance program in order to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the Beacon Farmers' Market and Common Greens mobile markets around town.
Last year, the program distributed $3,000 to people who qualified before funds ran out, according to the Beacon Farmers' Market Manager Sarah Simon. "We got the word out last year by hanging posters in key locations – the Beacon Community Health Center, the WIC office, the SNAP/EBT office – and so forth," Sarah recalled. "We also did a flyer distribution as well as a robo-text (text to all families) in the Beacon City School District. The mobile market, which is a program started by Green Teens and Helanna Bratman in 2015, is also well-attended, so we made an announcement there as well. This year, we hope to do more tabling at community events."
Support from Businesses and Individuals
Volunteer support has come in many forms: citizens in the community have been cooking soups, Quinn's has donated a large quantity of paper goods, and Beacon Pantry and Jennifer Clair have offered burner space to keep soups toasty warm. Over a dozen people will staff the event and assist with outreach, according to outreach coordinator Jill Rubin.
The benefits program made available within the Beacon Farmers' Market is sponsored by CCEDC Green Teen and Common Ground Farm, with additional support from United Way, Poppy's, Obercreek Farm, Homespun Foods, Fishkill Farms and Hudson River Healthcare.
What Else Is Available At the Beacon Farmers' Market?
Produce enthusiasts can also get fresh seafood at the Beacon Farmers' Market as well as fresh poultry, depending on vendors what is in season. The Farmers' Market will remain at its indoor location at the Memorial Building on Sundays until April 9, and will reopen its outdoor location by the Hudson River on April 23. While you're there, don't forget to tip the fiddler.