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PRESS RELEASE- Downing Proposal Promotes Access to Fresh, Locally Grown, Nutritious Food
June 03, 2009

Boston- Today, state Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) testified before the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, urging the body to act favorably on legislation he filed to establish the Massachusetts Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Farmers Market Project (Senate Bill 393).

 

“This proposal ensures everyone has access to nutritious, locally grown produce,” said Downing.  “Once implemented, more families across the Commonwealth will be able to shop at farmers’ markets, enjoy healthier meals, and support local farmers.”

 

S. 393 creates the Massachusetts EBT Farmers’ Market Project within the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), to provide wireless EBT technology to state approved farmers’ markets across the Commonwealth.  Doing so will allow recipients of Food Stamp benefits to purchase farm fresh fruit, vegetables, and other locally grown, nutritious products at local farmers’ markets.

 

Downing’s legislation restores a benefit previously available to Food Stamp recipients.  Prior to the implementation of electronic EBT cards, Food Stamps were distributed to recipients in the form of coupon books, redeemable at stores and widely accepted at farmers’ markets.  When Food Stamp benefits were converted to EBT cards, the lack of technology at farmers’ markets precluded recipients from being able to purchase their farm fresh products.  With successful passage of this bill, Food Stamp recipients will once again have access to healthful, fresh and locally grown food to bring home to their families.

 

Barbara Zheutlin, Executive Director of Berkshire Grown, a non-profit organization supporting local farms through the promotion of local farmers’ markets and other buy local initiatives, said of Downing’s bill, “This is a wonderful way to increase access to locally grown food.”

 

The bill now awaits further action from the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

 

Local Farmers’ Markets Location, Dates & Times

 


Location

Day/Times

Dates

Adams

60 Columbia St.

Friday & Saturday

Noon - 6:00 pm

May 29 to October 23

Ashfield

Ashfield Town Common

Saturday

 8:30 am - 12:30pm

May 23 to October 31

Great Barrington

Former Railroad Station on Castle St. (Behind Town Hall)

Saturday

9:00 am - 1:00 pm

May 9 to October 31

Great Barrington

94 West Avenue

Wednesday

3:00 pm - 7:00 pm

June 3 to September 2

Lanesboro

Berkshire Mall Parking Lot

Wednesday & Saturday

8:00 am - 2:00 pm

May 2 to November 21

Lee

Next to Lee Post Office

Friday

10:00 am - 1:00 pm

May 8 to October 8

Lenox

Triangle park, Main St.

Friday

2:00 pm - 6:00 pm

May 8 to October 9

North Adams

Corner of Marshall and Center St.

Saturday

8:00 am - 12:30 pm

July 18 to October 31

Otis

L & M Auto, Blanford Rd.

Saturday

9:00 am - 1:00 pm

May 9 to October 10

Pittsfield

400 North Street, Downtown

Thursday

4:00 pm - 7:00 pm

June to October 29

Sheffield

Rt. 7 at Massini’s Lot

Friday

3:30 pm - 6:30 pm

May to October

Williamstown

Spring Street Parking Lot

Saturday

8:00 am - Noon

End of May to October

 

 

For additional information on farmers’ markets across the Commonwealth including crop availability information, shopping tips, produce storage tips, nutrition information, recipes and more, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr. 

 

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