$330,000 in funding available under Freshconnect Farmers’ Market - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

$330,000 in funding available under Freshconnect Farmers’ Market program

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ALBANY, N.Y. -- A $130,000 Request for Proposal for the "FreshConnect" Farmers' Market program, which assists New York farmers by promoting the sale of locally-grown food products, has been released.

The program, in its fourth year, focuses on bringing fresh farm products to nutritionally-underserved communities and improving nutrition education statewide.

This year, the $130,000 RFP will focus on supporting at least 13 traditional farmers' market and youth market grant projects across the state. Under this initiative, new and existing farmers' markets, municipalities, and not-for-profits may apply for up to $10,000, and those with the best ideas on how to improve access to farmers' markets participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assitance Program (SNAP) will be awarded funding.

In addition, $200,000 in "FreshConnect Checks" will be released this year to serve low-income families across the state, including, for the first time, $50,000 directed to veterans of all ages. Checks will be begin being distributed through veterans facilities this summer, based on proximity to eligible farmers' markets.

The "FreshConnect Checks" program encourages the use of SNAP benefits at participating farmers' markets by providing $2 incentive coupons for every $5 in SNAP benefits. In 2013, over $3.2 million in SNAP sales occurred at farmers' markets throughout the state. In addition to SNAP, FreshConnect-funded projects aim to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and are encouraged to accept other nutrition incentives, such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Fruit & Vegetable Checks, Farmers' Market Nutrition Program checks, and Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition checks.

The FreshConnect program was the first step in Governor Cuomo's "Farm New York" initiative to invest in the state's agriculture industry, a vital component of the state's economy. Since its inception the Fresh Connect Program has funded 80 projects throughout the state and allocated more than $1 million.

To apply for funding under the RFP, please visit the Department of Agriculture and Markets website at www.agriculture.ny.gov/RFPS.html.

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