Farmers Markets are for Everyone
Despite having the support of government programs like The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, many families struggle to put food on the table. (For a brief history of Food Stamps and SNAP, we invite you to click here.)
SNAP benefits are distributed through the Oregon Trail Card, which is used like a debit card. Portland Farmers Market processes SNAP transactions at each of its eight markets, debiting the Oregon Trail Card in exchange for $1 tokens that shoppers can use at vendor stalls.
To help fill the gap and get more farm-direct produce into the hands of our low income neighbors, dedicated community leaders and volunteers partnered with Portland Farmers Market to establish and administer Fresh Exchange, a token-matching program for all SNAP participants.
Fresh Exchange and Farmers Market Fund
Fresh Exchange provides SNAP shoppers with a dollar-for-dollar match (up to an additional $5 per week) to spend with market vendors at the King, Buckman, Northwest and Kenton Portland Farmers Market locations. By making their benefit dollars go farther, Fresh Exchange encourages SNAP beneficiaries to frequent farmers markets, so they can enjoy the best local food and support local farmers.
In 2009, the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN), Portland Farmers Market and a group of dedicated community leaders and volunteers partnered to establish Fresh Exchange (originally called Foodshare Fund Northeast) to help get more farm-direct produce into the hands of low-income residents. In Fresh Exchange’s inaugural year, King Portland Farmers Market shoppers using SNAP benefits received an additional $5 per week in matching tokens to spend on fresh local food.
Building on the success of the program established by NECN, in 2010 Fresh Exchange expanded to Buckman Portland Farmers Market in SE Portland, thanks to a Portland Business Alliance Leadership team and fiscal administrator SE Uplift.
The Fresh Exchange program has since expanded to all Portland Farmers Market neighborhood locations--King, Buckman, Northwest and Kenton--where it provides SNAP recipients $5 in matching funds to spend at the market.
Fresh Exchange is now administered by Farmers Market Fund, a companion charitable organization to Portland Farmers Market dedicated to providing low-income, elderly and under-served populations in the region increased access to healthy, locally grown food.
Since the inception of the Fresh Exchange program, nearly $80,000 has been distributed to area residents in need. These funds have ultimately been directed into the hands of the region’s food producers, contributing to the success of the local food economy and fostering healthier communities.
New Seasons Market, Dave’s Killer Bread, Wells Fargo, Alberta Cooperative Grocery, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and Grand Central Baking have generously donated to Fresh Exchange over the years.
Download the 2012 Farmers Market Fund Annual Report to learn more.
How can you help?
We invite you to make a tax-deductible contribution to Farmers Market Fund to support Fresh Exchange and to help further our collective goal of fresh, healthy food for all our citizens. With one in five Oregonians receiving SNAP benefits, this program is more important than ever before.
Your generous contributions serve a dual function—putting food on the table for low-income families, and supporting small family farms. You can contribute to this vital program by clicking the button below:
You may also mail your tax-deductible donation to:
Farmers Market Fund
c/o Portland Farmers Market
240 N. Broadway, Suite 129
Portland, OR 97227
For questions about Fresh Exchange, Farmers Market Fund or using tokens at the market, please call the Market office at 503.241.0032 or email Anna Curtin.
Fresh Exchange Sponsorship
Program organizers invite a limited number of sponsorships to help further our mission to make healthy food available to all our citizens. In return for a monetary donation, contributors are provided recognition opportunities at the market and in Fresh Exchange outreach materials. For more information, email Trudy Toliver or call her at 503.241.0032.
Start a matching program at your market
As a community impact project, a Portland Business Alliance Leadership Portland team developed the food assistance matching program for SNAP recipients known as Fresh Exchange, which launched at Buckman Portland Farmers Market in 2010. The team compiled a toolkit guide in order to help others launch and sustain SNAP incentive programs at their markets. Download the Fresh Exchange Toolkit to learn how to start a similar program in your community.