Last year, the Portland Farmers Market began a popular program to allow people with food stamps, debit cards and credit cards to shop at the market. At a staffed information booth, shoppers at both the Wednesday and Saturday markets can transfer these electronic payments into wooden tokens that are accepted by market vendors just like cash.

At the end of this month, the grant funding for the program will run out. In an effort to keep it afloat, the market has launched an online crowdsourcing campaign to raise the money needed to staff the booth and issue the tokens for another year.

During the program’s first year, people with food stamps (officially known as SNAP benefits) spent $50,000 on fresh, locally grown food at the Portland Farmers Market. Food stamp recipients benefited from high-quality food, and farmers benefited from increased sales.

The federal food stamp program is issued through a payment mechanism similar to a debit card. To accept food stamps, vendors need an expensive electronic processing device that few individual farmers can afford.

While the program at the Portland Farmers Market has been a success, according to market organizers, it needs additional cash in order to continue to pay for a staffer, electronic processing equipment and other expenses.

The program was started with support from Healthy Portland and Cultivating Community, with the startup funding coming from a federal anti-obesity grant. Using the Indiegogo site, the farmers hope to raise $12,000 through small, individual contributions, which will continue the program for another year and give the market time to develop a sustainable funding model for the program.

To support the campaign, visit www.indiegogo.com/PortlandFarmersMarket?c=home and pledge as little as $10 or as much as $1,000. Donors of $25 or more will receive thank-you gifts ranging from a bumper sticker to a day on the Alewive’s Brook Farm lobster boat. The campaign runs through Sept. 7.

 

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: [email protected]

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila