Berkshire Agriculture Ventures (BAV) has awarded over $140,000 in grants to support SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Access Program) matching programs at 10 Berkshire-area farmers markets. This financial assistance plays a pivotal role in bolstering food equity and ensuring that all community members have access to fresh, local, nutrient-dense food, especially at a time when SNAP benefits nationwide have been cut to pre-pandemic levels.
Through BAV’s Market Match Fund, an economic-development and food-access program, funding is provided to farmers markets to enhance the effectiveness of SNAP benefits throughout the Berkshire-Taconic region. BAV’s grants enable awarded farmers markets to implement a dollar-for-dollar SNAP match program, doubling the purchasing power of SNAP at participating farmers markets. Beneficiaries can withdraw $30 in SNAP and receive an additional $30 in match, for a total of $60 to spend.
The following farmers markets received a 2023 grant from BAV’s Market Match Fund: North Adams Farmers Market, Williamstown Farmers Market, Pittsfield Farmers Market, West Stockbridge Farmers Market, Lee Farmers Market, Great Barrington Farmers Market, Sheffield Farmers Market, Millerton Farmers Market, New Milford Farmers Market, and Berkshire Grown Winter Farmers Markets.
In 2022, the Market Match Fund was launched as a pilot project to test the effectiveness of centralizing fundraising efforts for SNAP matching programs at Berkshire-area farmers markets. Within a year, the project successfully enhanced farmers markets’ operational efficiency and boosted revenue opportunities for local farms, all while ensuring consistent, affordable access to locally produced food for low-income households.
“Farmers markets are often misconceived, and SNAP is an aspect of farmers markets and local food sales that isn’t talked about enough,” said Ciana Barnaba, BAV’s Market Match Fund manager. “Part of BAV’s efforts is to grow public awareness that SNAP is not only accepted at farmers markets, but it is welcome and encouraged. We want all farmers markets in our area to accept SNAP because it makes the statement that farmers markets are for everyone. Farmers farm to feed all people, and we want to make it easier for farms to feed their entire community without having to undersell themselves.”
The 2023 Market Match Fund corporate and foundation sponsors include Greylock Federal Credit Union, the Feigenbaum Foundation, the Prospect Hill Foundation, the Josephine and Louise Crane Foundation, the Berkshire Bank Foundation, Guardian Life Insurance of America, Adams Community Bank, and many individuals who have made contributions.