Portland Farmers Market forms nonprofit to expand low-income food assistance

The Portland Farmers Market will expand its program of matching Oregon Trail funds for low-income shoppers through a new nonprofit.

The Portland Farmers Market will expand its program of matching Oregon Trail funds for low-income shoppers through a new nonprofit.

The Portland Farmers Market announced Monday the formation of a companion nonprofit, the Farmers Market Fund, to expand the program that provides access to farmers market produce to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — or SNAP — recipients.

The Farmers Market Fund, seeded with a $10,000 donation from New Seasons Market, will expand the market's two-year-old program of offering dollar-for-dollar matching of Oregon Trail Card funds in exchange for tokens to be used at vendor stalls.

The new fund will extend the available match amount from $5 to $7 and make the program available at three of the four Portland Farmers Market neighborhood markets, including King, Buckman and Northwest Portland.

The farmers market started working with SNAP funds in 2009 through a partnership with Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods and other community leaders. In total, what's become known as the Fresh Exchange program distributed more than $44,000 in matching funds.

"We envision Portland as a place where every resident has access to high quality, nutritious, locally grown food, and where farmers markets are accessible to all," said Trudy Toliver, executive director of Portland Farmers Market, in a press release. "The creation of Farmers Market Fund and expansion of Fresh Exchange helps bring this vision to life."

Individuals and businesses are invited to support the Farmers Market Fund, which will continue to administer the Fresh Exchange program. Past donors include Farmers Market sponsor Dave's Killer Bread, Wells Fargo, Alberta Cooperative Grocery, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, the Kelley Foundation Trust and Grand Central Baking.

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