Four farms receive new equipment to combat food insecurity

  • Ryan Voiland of Red Fire Farm in Montague with the SNAP and HIP reader that allows the farm to sell directly to people using those benefits. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • A greenhouse at Red Fire Farm in Montague in January is still growing produce. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Sam Brzozowski and Julio Neijens harvest claytonia, a winter green, in a greenhouse at Red Fire Farm in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/2/2022 8:40:06 AM
Modified: 2/2/2022 8:38:37 AM

Four Franklin County farms received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) processing equipment from the state as part of the Massachusetts EBT/SNAP Equipment Grant Program, as announced in a press release from the state Department of Transitional Assistance.

The department announced Jan. 14 that over $39,900 in value was awarded to 29 farmers and farmer’s markets “to expand local food access points for low-income residents across the commonwealth.” Franklin County farms granted equipment are Greenfield’s Bostrom Farm, Montague’s Red Fire Farm, Deerfield’s Atlas Farm and Shelburne’s Hager’s Farm Market.

The equipment granted functions to “facilitate the acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at mobile locations” in an effort to “increase the availability of fresh, healthy food and drive federal dollars into the state’s economy.” The Department of Transitional Assistance worked in collaboration with the state Department of Agricultural Resources and with financial support from the United States Department of Agriculture to bring the program to fruition.

Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershaw said in a release that the department continues to work with ots agricultural partners to expand equitable SNAP access points, enabling the over 590,000 households who receive SNAP to buy local food in the communities where they live. “This grant program also brings critical economic support into our state’s food system, supporting Massachusetts farmers and their employees,” she said.

Particular gear received by each of the 29 farms and markets depend on which of two categories they qualify for. “Category 1” farms and markets have not previously received SNAP processing equipment paid for with federal funding, whereas “Category 2” farms and markets have previously received SNAP processing equipment paid for with federal funding and have hardware that is no longer operable.

“We are grateful for the small grant since this helps us continue to be able to process SNAP and HIP payments at all of our farmer’s market locations,” said Ryan Voiland, owner and manager of Red Fire Farm.

“We’ve utilized SNAP through the Greenfield Farmers Market for years,” said Kyle Bostrom, owner of Bostrom Farm. “Our customers have utilized it for years and I think it’ll be very helpful for them.”

Bostrom added that 10 to 15% of sales the farm makes are SNAP transactions.

Rich Allium, mobile market manager at Atlas Farm, said he is grateful the granted equipment will help him better serve this customer base.

“It really helps to keep our costs low, and thereby offer better prices to our customers,” Allium wrote in an email.

A second grant application period for farmers and farmers’ markets began Jan. 14 and remains open until Feb. 18. This winter round is limited to eligible winter vendors who intend on selling during the months of January, February and March. Interested organizations may apply at https://bit.ly/3KENnWv. A third application round will open on April 20 for all eligible vendors to apply. Those interested in applying during this spring round can sign up to be notified about the opening at https://bit.ly/3qWsHS5.

“This grant program reflects the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to connect Massachusetts households with healthy and culturally accessible food in support of a strong local food system,” Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said in the release. “This program builds on the success of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program and the addition of 39 new Healthy Incentives Program vendors as we continue to promote food security across the Commonwealth.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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