Niskayuna Farmers Market will accept SNAP benefits – The Daily Gazette

NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna Farmers’ Market will begin accepting benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program this summer — a move officials say will improve food access while bolstering business for local vendors.

The city council on Thursday approved a resolution by a 4-0 vote allowing the use of food aid benefits at the market, which is set to return on July 9. Councilman John Della Ratta was not present.

“This will allow more people who receive SNAP benefits to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and items at the farmers’ market, and I think that’s a really good way to increase access,” said Supervisor Jaime Puccioni, who sponsored the resolution alongside Councilman Jason Moskowitz. .

In accepting SNAP benefits, Niskayuna Farmers’ Market is following in the footsteps of other area markets, including Schenectady County Farmers’ Market, Saratoga Farmers’ Market, and Schenectady Green Market, which accept benefits for years.

Last year, the Niskayuna Farmer’s Market began participating in the Federal Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, which offers coupons to purchase market-fresh produce to those enrolled in the Women’s, Infants and Children’s Program and eligible seniors. .

Donna Evans, a member of the Niskayuna Farmers Market Committee, said market organizers are excited to start accepting the benefits of SNAP, noting that the market is a community resource that everyone deserves to have access to.

“Accepting the benefits of SNAP is the right thing to do,” she said. “This will provide all of our customers with fairer access to fresh, quality food.”

Food insecurity is a growing problem in Schenectady County, where a lack of grocery stores and lack of transportation make access to fresh, healthy foods like fruits and vegetables hard to find for some residents – an issue that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and inflation.

The number of households receiving SNAP benefits in the county rose to 12,109 in April 2022, the highest at any time during the pandemic, according to the state’s most recent data.

That’s an 8% increase from April 2021, when 11,185 county households received the benefit.

In April 2020, shortly after the pandemic took root, 11,689 county households were receiving the allowance, an increase of 7.8% from April 2019, when 10,848 households received it, according to data from the state.

Evans pointed to recent data compiled by the US Census Bureau that indicated that 2.5% of Niskayuna households received SNAP benefits.

“There will also be a need in our community and the marketplace can help meet that need by accepting SNAP benefits,” she said.

The increase in the number of households receiving SNAP benefits coincides with the price spike that has affected how consumers spend their money. The Consumer Price Index, which measures the change in prices consumers pay for goods and services, rose 8.6% from May 2021 to May 2022, the biggest one-year jump since the early 1980s, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. .

Food prices have also risen steadily, rising 11.9% between May 2022 and May 2021, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices hovered just below $5 a gallon, a 50% increase from a year ago, even after the state partially suspended its gasoline tax. until the end of the year.

To begin accepting SNAP benefits, the city will open a bank account under the Department of Community Programs that will allow program recipients to use their electronic benefits transfer card to purchase $1 tokens that can be used to purchase a variety of items from participating vendors, including fruit. and vegetables, breads, everyday products, meats, fish, poultry and others.

Sellers will then be able to complete a refund form and return the tokens received in order to be refunded. Unused tokens can be returned or saved for future use in the market.

Meanwhile, Evans said many of the market’s popular vendors are expected to return this year, and that special programming, including workshops led by master gardeners, fitness demonstrations and children’s craft events led by local Girl Scouts, can be expected.

The Niskayuna Farmers’ Market will be held every Saturday from July 9 through October 15 at the Niskayuna Town Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.

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Categories: News, Schenectady County, Your Niskayuna

James V. Payne