Governor Lamont Highlights Expansion of Food Assistance Programs To Increase Access to Locally Grown Food at Connecticut Farmers Markets
(MIDDLETOWN, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today visited the Middletown Farmers Market to celebrate National Farmers Market Week and highlight the recent expansion of the state’s food assistance programs to provide increased access to fresh, locally grown food at farmers markets in Connecticut.
National Farmers Market Week, which runs this year from August 7 to 13, is an annual celebration that highlights the vital role farmers markets play in the nation’s food system. There are more than 200 certified farmers markets and farm stands in Connecticut, which can be located by visiting www.ctgrown.gov/farmersmarkets. An interactive map of Connecticut’s farmers markets can be found at www.ctgrown.org.
Over the last two years, Governor Lamont and the state legislature approved several changes to the state’s food assistance programs with the goal of ensuring that households of all income levels have access to nutritious, fresh, locally grown food, while at the same time supporting Connecticut’s farmers.
At the Middletown Farmers Market, approximately 90% of the customers are seniors who use these programs, which include the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and CT Fresh Match.
“Every individual should have access to nutritious food regardless of whether they live in a rural, suburban, or urban neighborhood, and by expanding our food assistance programs to increase the ability to accept these benefits at farmers markets, we can get healthy food to everyone,” Governor Lamont said. “Additionally, supporting farmers markets means supporting Connecticut’s agriculture industry and the jobs that this sector maintains. I strongly encourage everyone to visit one of our state’s many farmers markets and get some Connecticut Grown products.”
During the most recent legislative session, the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, received additional funding for eligible individuals to redeem checks at certified farmers markets and farm stands. Eligible individuals include seniors over the age of 60, and women, infants, and children who meet certain guidelines. Eligible participants can receive up to $32.00 in checks through this program, which can be used to purchase fresh Connecticut Grown fruits, vegetables, eggs, cut herbs, and honey.
Many farmers markets in Connecticut also accept SNAP benefits, with some offering to double those benefits. To further this, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture this year used $200,000 in funding that it received from the American Rescue Plan Act to expand the CT Fresh Match program, which is administered by End Hunger CT and allows farmers markets to double customer purchases made with SNAP benefits.
“Connecticut’s farmers markets are a collective effort fostering direct to consumer sales, reinforcing the farm to plate connection, and providing a crucial entry point for new and beginning farmers,” Connecticut Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt said. “Farmers markets fuel local economies and provide increased access to nutritious, fresh Connecticut Grown food for our most vulnerable populations.”
“Nutrition is vitally important, particularly for older adults,” Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services Commissioner Amy Porter said. “We are pleased to promote the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which increases access to fresh foods for older adults. These coupons are available through many senior centers, municipal agents, and other service providers.”
Connecticut’s agriculture industry generates $4 billion in the state’s economy and fosters more than 21,000 jobs.