But he also knows the impact that high-quality food from the farmers market can have on his wallet. “The vegetables and fruits at market look so good, but it’s expensive,” he says. And it’s a real challenge to decide whether his dollars will go towards healthy market produce, or whether he will spend them on “transit, housing, city living—it all costs so much.” TemRa, and so many others in our community, face this tough decision every day. That’s why he so values FRESHFARM’s Matching Dollars program, which matches what shoppers spend with their federal nutrition benefits, up to $10. Matching Dollars helps TemRa stretch his shopping dollars, making the prices “more comparable to supermarket rates—and the quality is so much better!”
His colleague, known as Ms. Lioness, agrees. The first time she had a fresh tomato from the farmers market, she said it brought back a flood of memories: “It tasted like the tomatoes from my grandma’s garden, and much better than anything I’ve ever had from Harris Teeter!” She wants everyone to know what it was like “when food tasted like food,” which is why she’s working to increase access for all at the farmers market. “I have children. When I found out about Matching Dollars, it helped me feed fruits and vegetables to two more people in my household,” Ms. Lioness explains. The program has had a real, tangible impact on her family’s diet and has increased the amount and diversity of healthy foods she can purchase.
TemRa and Ms. Lioness are both very conscious of the impact the Matching Dollars program can have for farmers as well. They know that market prices reflect the effort farmers put into raising their crops and the wages they are paying their employees, and that most small farmers cannot compete with large, national distributors. They view the Matching Dollars program as essential in getting more money in the pockets of local farmers, while also increasing the number of shoppers that have access to market. “So many farmers themselves are struggling to make a decent living,” Ms. Lioness says. “We need these farmers,” TemRa adds, “and we need to bridge the gap between low-income shoppers and farmers. This is about more than just food. I know that spending money with them is an investment in my health.”
Indeed, the Matching Dollars program, at its heart, is about leveling the playing field so that all members of our community can have access to the fabulous produce that our local farmers bring to market every week. But we need your support to keep the program thriving. From now until Labor Day, if you donate at least $20 to Matching Dollars, you will be entered into a drawing to win a ticket to the FRESHFARM Feast on October 18. And you’ll know that you are helping shoppers like TemRa and Ms. Lioness buy more of the fruits and vegetables that we all deserve to enjoy.
Thanks to you, we've already raised $500 in the first week of our fundraiser!