news from the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods:
Due to Increased Popularity and Demand, Foodshare Fund Northeast Scales Back Token Matching Program
Beginning August 1, local incentive program will match up to $5 in SNAP funds spent at King Portland Farmers Market instead of $10.
Portland, Ore., July 29, 2010 – The Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods Inc, (NECN) today announced the reduction from $10 to $5 in matching funds distributed through the Foodshare Fund Northeast (FFNE) program offered in partnership with the Portland Farmers Market (PFM), the nonprofit 501(c)6 organization, who operates the King Portland Farmers Market held on Sundays in the King neighborhood of Northeast Portland.
Foodshare Fund Northeast, a project of the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods – a community-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation dedicated to highly inclusive civic engagement and innovative community initiatives in Portland’s inner North and Northeast neighborhoods – FFNE was launched in early July 2009 to increase access to fresh, nutritious food for low income residents of North and Northeast Portland. The successful local neighborhoods project is truly volunteer-driven, community-funded and staff-supported. It also serves as a model partnership between two different organizations, NECN and PFM, where missions are complementary and benefit the greater community.
Funded by individuals and local businesses, FFNE offers a limited dollar-for-dollar match to SNAP participants using their EBT cards to purchase $1 tokens at the King Market. For the first three months of the current market season, the maximum amount was $10 per person perweek, but due to the significant increase in weekly shoppers, that amount has been reduced to $5 for the duration of the market season, which runs through October.
FFNE co-chair and Northeast neighbor Traci Manning shared, “The program has drawn more and more regular shoppers week after week. In filling their bags with local produce and other goods, we’ve been filling a great need in the North/Northeast neighborhood. Unfortunately, it also means that the funds are being depleted faster than we had budgeted.”
She added, “Rather than risk running out of funds before the end of the season, we have decided to reduce the match back to its original $5 level effective August 1. Although we will still need to secure additional funds to get through the full season, we’re confident we will get the necessary support. Our goal is to have excess funds for the start of next season.”
By most measures, FFNE has been a resounding success. Since its inception, FFNE has raised $22,000 from neighborhood associations, local businesses, community groups, and individuals, and has served 2,500 people. NECN’s Board of Directors and its neighborhood associations have generously contributed to the Fund for two years in a row. Prior to the program, EBT customers made up just 1% of market customers. That number has risen steadily since the match was introduced, and EBT customers now account for 6% of all market customers. EBT spending at the market rose from an average of $2000 a month before the match to more than $6000 a month with the match. The fund has also inspired a sister project, Fresh Exchange, which began this year at the Buckman Portland Farmers Market in Southeast Portland.
Oregon ranks number two in the nation for the number of citizens that experience food insecurity (source: OregonHunger.org). In 2009, one in six Oregonians received SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) benefits. Individuals and businesses interested in contributing to FFNE can make an online donation via the NECN website (please indicate that it is intended for FFNE) or send a check made out to the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods-Foodshare Fund Northeast” to: “Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN), 4815 NE 7th Avenue, Portland, OR 97211. For further information about the program, contact Paige Coleman, Executive Director at 503 823-3151 or Imani Muhammad, Community Initiatives Coordinator at 503-823-4264. Shoppers are welcome at the King Portland Farmers Market every Sunday through October 31, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It is located at NE 7th and Wygant between NE Alberta and NE Prescott, in the parking lot adjacent to King Elementary School.