A federal grant will give one local farmers market a healthy boost.
The Boalsburg farmers market will begin to receive a newly awarded $28,171 grant soon, but market organizers need to name a grant administrator first.
Given by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, the grant is expected to help the market increase its cooking demonstrations, expand its school outreach programs and feed lower-income residents.
The market will begin interviews with at least five candidates for the grant administrator position this week.
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Jim Eisenstein, the market’s community outreach director, said he wants to hire someone within the next two weeks. Others interested in the position can email Eisenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply for the position is 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The grant will allow the market to start a system to benefit people who receive food stamps from the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Market co-manager Tony Sapia said the market is also looking for a SNAP benefits program coordinator and a publicity director to implement the grant. But, he said, the grant administrator could also fill those positions.
“It really could be described as one person filling all three positions, because they’re three line items,” Sapia said. “We’d like one person to fill those three roles if they can.”
Sapia said the market aims to have its new SNAP system in place by May 1.
Some grant money will be used to increase the market’s presence with the State College and Penns Valley Area school districts.
For three years, the farmers market has given presentations to the school districts’ elementary schools and handed out $5 vouchers to students to make purchases at the weekly food market. The grant also supports presentations to middle school students in each school district, and in-school food safety and preparation programs.
In addition, the grant will allow the farmers market to increase its cooking demonstrations from four to eight sessions next year.
Eventually, the grant might help others beyond its original recipient. The local Susquehanna Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter plans on drawing from the Boalsburg market’s results to apply for similar grant money for other local farmers markets.
“This will be a prototype for all farmers markets in Centre County,” Sapia said. “It’s a big boost that will show how well these grants can be used for our local farmers markets.”