Field & Fork Network is proud to announce an exciting partnership with Tops Friendly Markets to pilot their Double Up Food Bucks NY program at two Tops locations: 1275 Jefferson Ave in Buffalo, NY, and the 1000 Portage Road in Niagara Falls, NY. This innovative program aims to increase access to fresh produce and make it more affordable for individuals with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits by providing a $1 for $1 match on produce purchases (up to $5 per day).Continue reading
The Niagara Falls City Market is thrilled to announce the upcoming season, set to be its most vibrant and eventful yet. With an array of new vendors, engaging special events, extended operating hours, heightened safety protocols, and an abundance of locally sourced produce, the market aims to provide an experience for visitors and residents alike.Continue reading
Field & Fork Network, a New York State nonprofit that connects communities to innovative solutions that foster a sustainable food system, and, Grocerist, which makes e-commerce profitable for grocers with the first and only grocery-specific e-commerce solution built on Shopify, announced today that they have partnered to make New York non-profit The Hub on the Hill the first grocer in the nation to roll out an automated online solution for Double Up Food Bucks NY. Double Up Food Bucks NY helps SNAP recipients stretch their benefits by matching SNAP dollars spent on fresh fruits and vegetables, doubling their impact. The program is available in 25 states, and this is the first automated, scalable solution that other grocers can leverage to make local healthy foods more affordable and accessible.
“Food prices are escalating rapidly, and the Double Up Food Bucks program is a fantastic resource for increasing SNAP recipients’ access to fresh, healthy foods,” said Jeff Anders, Co-founder and CEO of Grocerist. “We’re proud to be working with Field & Fork Network on this important project, which provides a national model for how to implement nutrition incentives and SNAP together online.”
The Hub on the Hill (the Hub) is known for applying innovative technology to benefit its customers. In January, the Hub worked with Grocerist and partner Forage to become the first food hub in the nation to accept SNAP EBT payments online. Now, SNAP recipients shopping online at the Hub will see Double Up Food Bucks NY automatically applied to their online account for their produce purchases -immediately redeemable for discounts on any future produce purchases.
Food insecurity rates across the North Country, which encompasses a geographically large and rural part of the state, are around 13%; significantly higher than the statewide rate of 9.6%, and accessing fresh food is even harder in rural communities where there may not be a grocery store for 30 miles. “When we launched SNAP Online, we knew that was just the first step,” said Lindsay Willemain, Executive Director of The Hub on the Hill. “Getting Double Up Food Bucks NY online was an obvious next one and being able to use this incentive-and take advantage of the Hub’s home delivery service-will help make fresh foods accessible and affordable. With the end of SNAP emergency allotments, it feels even more important to have this incentive available to our customers now.”
“Healthy food incentive programs like Double Up Food Bucks NY are great for families, grocers and our local communities,” said Lisa French, Co-founder and Executive Director of Field & Fork Network. “When families save money on food, they can use it for other needs. These reinvestments in communities also help our local economies. We’re excited to roll this out with The Hub on the Hill and Grocerist, because e-commerce is becoming an important avenue for increasing access to healthy food in our communities.”
“The needs of poor and working people have historically been left out of the local food movement. For the Hub to realize its mission to support and strengthen the local food system here in the North Country, it must consider the needs of everyone involved in that food system—consumers and producers alike. Programs like the Double Up match program area powerful way to achieve this. People using SNAP are able to stretch their benefits twice as far on fruits and vegetables while the farmers who grew them are still making the full amount. This makes a real difference in this moment of increased food prices, increased costs of production, and the simultaneous decrease in SNAP allowances,” said a Hub Customer and SNAP Shopper.
The National Grocers Association Foundation Technical Assistance Center (NGAF TA Center), a partner of the Nutrition Incentive Hub, provided technical assistance services for this project. “While nutrition incentive programs are beneficial to customers and local communities, they are advantageous to the stores operating them as well, but independent grocers don’t always have the resources required to extend these programs online,” said Josh Anderegg, project director for the NGAF TA Center. “The food distribution system is incredibly complex, however, working together, such as in the case with Grocerist, Field & Fork Network, and Hub on the Hill,to provide an automated model can help to make important incentive programs easy and scalable for customers and retailers to participate in across the nation.”
“This innovative collaboration is making it easier for New Yorkers to access fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables while increasing the purchasing power of their SNAP benefits,” said Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz. “We are grateful to Field & Fork Network, Hub on the Hill, and Grocerist for making this happen and look forward to this model being replicated across the state as it can benefit additional SNAP recipients, retailers and communities.”
“The partnership between Field & Fork Network, Hub on the Hill, and Grocerist is an exciting innovation that makes locally grown fruits and vegetables more affordable through the Double Up Food Bucks program and more accessible by offering online SNAP purchasing and home delivery to low-income residents in rural communities,” said Erica Raml, Director of Technical Assistance & Innovation, Nutrition Incentive Hub.
All SNAP recipients are eligible for the Double Up Food Bucks NY program -to learn more, visit www.doubleupnys.com.
About Hub on the Hill
The Hub on the Hill is a nonprofit food hub working to strengthen local supply chains, expand access to nutritious, local food and create regenerative systems in order to support the land and people that help sustain us all. The Hub delivers farm fresh, local food to the doorsteps of individuals, retailers, and institutions like schools from the Canadian Border to the Capital Region every week. https://www.thehubonthehill.org/
About Double Up Food Bucks NY
Double Up Food Bucks is a nationwide nutrition incentive model, administered by Field & Fork Network, servicing millions of low-income SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) users with a dollar-for-dollar match to increase affordability and access to fresh healthy foods at farmers markets, CSAs, farm stands, mobile markets, and grocery stores. In New York State, Double Up has contributed to 5.2 million pounds of healthy food sales to over 100,000 customers, at more than 220 sites spanning 29 counties. To learn more about Double Up Food Bucks and a complete list of participating sites, please visit the program website and social media sites, or call 1-800-682-5016. www.doubleupnys.com
About National Grocers Association Foundation Technical Assistance Center
The NGA Foundation is the 501(c)3 nonprofit arm of the National Grocers Association. The Foundation provides independent retailers with tools to develop more effective recruiting programs, enhance retention efforts and bolster professional leadership development opportunities for employers. One program of NGAF is the grant funded Technical Assistance Center which provides education and resources on nutrition incentive projects, particularly those funded through the USDA Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). For more information, visit www.ngafoundation.org
Grocerist makes e-commerce profitable for grocers, with the first and only grocery-specific e-commerce solution built on Shopify, the world’s largest e-commerce platform. Grocerist gives merchants an e-commerce store at their own URL with all the functionality offered by their largest competitors, pick/pack technology that reduces store operating costs, a national delivery partner, control over pickup/delivery fees, low credit-card processing fees, white-glove guidance through the online SNAP application, and ongoing email, search and social media marketing support. Grocerist’s mission is to help the independent grocer use online to drive profit -both online and in-store. Learn more at www.grocerist.com
For a complete list of participating Double Up sites and hours of operation, visit www.doubleupnys.com/location
Cornell’s Action Research Collaborative (ARC) is partnering with Field & Fork Network to evaluate the impact of the Double Up Food Bucks NY program on families that experience food insecurity in New York.
The Double Up Food Bucks NY program, launched in 2014, is the only statewide nutrition incentive program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match on each purchase of fresh produce for New York Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. The program also creates new economic opportunities for small and mid-sized New York farmers, since retailers offering Double Up Food Bucks are required to provide a certain percentage of locally sourced produce.
Generating sustainable solutions to food insecurity is one of ARC’s priorities, according to Tashara M. Leak, assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences (College of Human Ecology) and co-director of ARC. Leak’s research and ARC’s partnership with Field & Fork Network will also continue its mission of supporting action research projects that bring together researchers, community members and policymakers.
“Double Up is a proven intervention to addressing food insecurity and alleviating the burden of purchasing high-cost produce on more than 40,000 families in upstate New York. Also, more than ever, underserved New Yorkers need access to healthy food options to improve nutrition and health.” says Leak, who is co-principal investigator on the project.
At first, Field & Fork Network launched Double Up Food Bucks NY at just seven farmers markets across the western New York region. Now, with the help of several partners and community organizations, Field & Fork Network has expanded Double Up Food Bucks NY to serve 29 counties through farmer’s markets and stands, co-ops, and even retail locations. With a total of $8.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grant and private funding, Double Up Food Bucks NY has reached over 100,000 SNAP shoppers and their families and supplied more than $2.1 million to underserved NY families.
“At our core we’ve always wanted to look for new innovative ideas on how to improve the food system,” says Lisa French, co-founder and executive director of Field & Fork Network. “When we were introduced to Double Up Food Bucks in 2013, we knew this was a program worth bringing to our community. Rarely do you encounter a program that has benefits for so many: low-income consumers can afford more healthy nutritious foods, local farmers see more money in their pockets, and more federal food assistance dollars go back into the local economy. With ARC, we have the opportunity to better understand our program’s impact across the state.”
Field & Fork Network credits its many partners, such as the American Heart Association (AHA), for the program’s success. In 2020, the need for nutrition programs that decrease barriers to affordability and accessibility became even more apparent. COVID-19 greatly exacerbated issues of food insecurity—particularly for the state’s already vulnerable residents—due to rising levels of unemployment, school closures and general food and supply shortages. The program demand nearly doubled in 2020 and has seen steady growth since.
Now, the program has potential to reach 27 percent of new SNAP customers outside of New York City by 2026. To achieve this, Field & Fork Network and ARC’s Evaluation Unit are exploring innovative ways to increase program participation and leverage additional federal funding. It is estimated that Double Up Food Bucks NY will be able to quadruple the number of people served in New York state with continued federal support.
The Action Research Collaborative’s Evaluation Unit specializes in collecting data to evaluate the impact of initiatives. The Evaluation Unit, led by ARC’s co-directors, and supported by two postdoctoral fellows, Zeynab Jouzi and Ibukun Owoputi, and a research coordinator, will conduct interviews with Double Up NY stakeholders to better understand the landscape for SNAP recipients and farmers in the state to measure the success of Double Up’s implementation and identify new opportunities for growth.
“Growing the Double Up program to serve more New Yorkers requires a more holistic understanding of the actors in the food system—SNAP recipients, farmers, grocers—and how they are all affected by different elements of the system,” says Neil Lewis, Jr., assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and ARC co-director. “The Action Research Collaborative’s partnership with Field & Fork Network will help to grow our collective knowledge about the factors that affect food insecurity in New York State, and grow that knowledge in ways that can be translated into action to improve food security in our state. We hope our collaboration will decrease the barriers to purchasing fresh, local produce through innovative methods that especially ease the burden for low-income families.”
This is an AmeriCorps VISTA position. Information about this program can be found here: http://www.americorps.gov/
Are you passionate about local food and improving food access for your friends and neighbors? Do you love farmers markets and creating safe, judgement free zones for folks to experience the joys of seasonal fruits and vegetables? Are you looking to get into a career in food systems or non-profits?
If you said yes to any or all of those questions, then apply to become a Local Food Action Plan Outreach VISTA member!
The Local Food Action Plan VISTA member will:
- Engage stakeholders to inform action items and priorities
- Develop and implement advocacy agenda items
- Assist with the development and implementation of projects and programs that positively impact the local food system
- Create economic opportunities for farmers and local food producers
In 2018, Field & Fork Network staff led the development of the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan (NFLFAP) which was approved by the Niagara Falls City Council in December 2018 as the official food plan for the City of Niagara Falls. The Plan provides a framework of actions to be undertaken to improve the local food system and increase food access amongst Niagara Falls residents.
Embedded within Field & Fork Network and supervised by the Project Director for the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan, the VISTA member will assist the Project Director and key partners in the planning, coordination, and execution of community outreach events and activities to gather information from key stakeholders to inform the work that is guided by the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan.
About Field & Fork Network:
Field & Fork Network is a New York State food and farming non-profit organization that connects communities to innovative solutions that foster a sustainable food system. Our work focuses on four important areas: agriculture economic development, food access, youth development and healthy neighborhoods.
About AmeriCorps VISTA
Since 1965, over 220,000 AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program have joined the fight against poverty by helping local organizations expand their capacity to make change. The VISTA program serves in each of the 50 U.S. states and in all U.S. territories.
Through capacity building activities such as fundraising, grant writing, research, and volunteer recruitment, AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program serve in an office setting and gain experience and leadership skills. This opportunity prepares members for a life of service in the public, private, or nonprofit sector.
Minimum Position Requirements:
- Be 18 years or older (no upper age limit)
- Hold one of the following citizenship or legal residency statuses: US citizen, US National, Lawful Permanent Resident (i.e. Green Card status), and persons legally residing within a state. Examples of persons legally residing within a state may include those holding the following classifications: refugee, asylee, temporary protected status throughout VISTA service, and holding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.
- Valid driver’s license and reliable vehicle required.
- A passion for increasing healthy food access for low-income community members.
- Strong skills in communicating, building relationships, and working with community members from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants and refugees, people of color, and low-income communities.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills.
- Strong public speaking skills or willingness to speak to large audiences (e.g. 15 or more persons).
- Strong analytical skills and ability to synthesize information from multiple sources into concise, easy to understand formats.
- An understanding of the stakeholders and considerations involved in sustainable food systems policy and planning.
- Childcare assistance if eligible
- $6,345 education award upon successful completion of service for either future education expenses or for payment of student loans OR a cash award of $1,800 upon successful completion of service
- Health coverage
- Living allowance
- Non-competitive eligibility (federal jobs)
- 10 sick days and 10 vacation days
- Relocation allowance (if applicable)
- Student loan forbearance and full payment of any interest accumulated during service upon successful completion of service
- Professional Development Opportunities
- Phone stipend
- Food assistance
- Additional benefits to be determined
Please send a resume and a brief description of your interest in the position to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applicants should indicate “Local Food Action Plan VISTA” in the subject line of the email.
Applications will be reviewed daily and the position will be filled based on AmeriCorps VISTA Member Orientation Dates. No phone calls please.
NOVEMBER 4, 2022
NIAGARA FALLS, NY – Field & Fork Network, a statewide food and farming nonprofit was awarded over $245,000 to revitalize the Niagara Falls City Market. Field & Fork Network took over farmers market management this season with the goal of creating an accessible and equitable market; where food, culture and community can be celebrated.
The USDA grant will provide the necessary funding to strengthen operations, make capital improvements, recruit new vendors, support community events, and engage the community. The grant is a part of the USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, which awarded over $13 million to 55 organizations across the country, Field & Fork Network was one of only five in New York that was selected.
“Access to fresh, nutritious, locally-grown food shouldn’t be a luxury. The Niagara Falls City Market has been a fixture in the community for over 100 years and community groups are working diligently to reimagine the marketspace so it can improve the local food system and meet the needs of Western New Yorkers,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow Field & Fork Network to engage the Niagara Falls community, increase traffic at the market, enhance opportunities for new local vendors, and improve access to affordable and healthy food. This is another investment that will contribute to a healthier and stronger future for the Western New York community.”
The Niagara Falls City Market has been in existence since the horse-and-buggy days of the late 1800s. What once was a vibrant market full of diverse vendors has struggled in recent years. In 2018, residents, and other important partners developed the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan to improve the local food system; the number one priority of the Plan was revitalizing the City Market.
“After years of ineffective efforts to improve the City Market, our Administration took the necessary steps to bring in Field & Fork Network to enhance the farmer and vendor potential at the market and coupled with new facility management by Militello Property Group, we believe the future is bright for our market. Securing this grant will provide additional resources that Field & Fork Network can use to attract and develop more vendors and improve promotion of the market. We appreciate the efforts of the Field & Fork Network and look forward to our ongoing partnership.”
Since taking over the market this year, Field & Fork Network has laid the groundwork to improve community access to local fresh produce by implementing programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Double Up Food Bucks, a nutrition incentive program that offers low-income individuals’ money to purchase local fresh produce. Additionally, they have strengthened market opportunities for the vendors through special events and marketing support.
“It has been a long road but we are excited to be at the point we are now with the farmers market; building back this important community asset as a place to buy fresh and affordable produce and other locally-produced products,” said Tom Lowe, Project Director for the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan who is also responsible for managing the Niagara Falls City Market. “We look forward to the markets continued growth to better support the community it serves and the farmers and vendors who have devoted years of their business to this farmers market.”
“The Niagara Falls City Market is a cornerstone of the community and an important source of fresh, affordable, and local produce,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I congratulate the Field & Fork Network on receiving this well-deserved award and look forward to seeing the new and improved market in operation.”
Field & Fork Network intends to work with current vendors, City Officials, residents and other stakeholders to develop a vision for the market that is part of the City’s overall development for the Pine Avenue area. Anyone interested in learning more about this work or to engage in the larger work of the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan can learn more by visiting www.fieldandforknetwork.com. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Original Publisher: Niagara Gazette
Reporter: Mark Sheer
Artisan Day event brings signs of hope to Niagara Falls City Market
The SnobKnockers played outdoors at the Niagara Falls City Market on Friday.
Next door to them, in a trailer that serves as Lend a Leaf’s business on wheels, Jessica Nyland served specialty coffees and teas.
Nyland was part of a larger group of vendors — mostly made up of local farmers — who were selling apples and empanadas and chicken soup and all manner of food and homemade items along the brick-paved area beneath the awning where City Market sellers have been selling fresh produce and more to customers for years.
Friday’s festivities were part of an Artisan Market, a special event designed to breath more life into what has been a staple off Pine Avenue near 18th Street for, by most estimates at least 100 years, or at least more years than most people who still frequent the market can remember.
Sheri Senek’s family business, Senek Farms, which has been in business in Ransomville for a century now, has been a presence at the Falls market for decades. The Senek family truck makes an appearance each week, all year long.
To Senek, hearing the SnobKnockers play while watching more customers engage with a wider variety of vendors represented two things she’s wanted most for the market for many years: Signs of progress and hope.
“This is amazing,” said Senek, whose father-in-law, Senek Farms founder John Senek started the family tradition of selling produce at the Falls market decades ago. “This is what we’re hoping for. We’ve got new vendors that we’re hoping will continue to come.”
“This is what we do,” she added. “We’re farmers. We’ve always come here. We brought our produce to the city. This market has always been an important part of this community.”
Up until this year, the city market was managed, under a deal struck with Niagara Falls city government in 1999, by Lewiston businessman Al Muto. In May, city lawmakers, at the urging of Mayor Robert Restaino’s administration, agreed to buy Muto out of his market lease, which ran through July 2032, with an additional 44-year option that could have been extended to 2076.
City officials agreed to spend $2 million in American Rescue Plan funds to terminate the city’s lease with Muto Development and reacquire control of the market and six adjacent properties. They are now working with various partners in hopes of reimagining the space for vendors, tenants and local residents.
One main partner is the Field and Fork Network, Inc., a non-profit organization that works with communities in an effort to promote more sustainable food systems. The Falls City Council agreed in August to enter into a management agreement for the market with the organization. That same month, the Network announced that it had reached an agreement to allow city market vendors to accept Supplemental Nutrition Program, or SNAP benefits, more commonly known as food stamps.
Senek said it has been a big boost for farmers who frequent the market and for Falls residents who need access to fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables.
“It’s been a big benefit,” she said.
Tony Poletti, owner of the Marketside restaurant at the City Market and president of the Pine Avenue Redevelopment Project, Inc., a local group dedicated to reimagining the Pine Avenue commercial strip, said he’s hopeful better days are ahead for the market, mainly because it feels to him like the right organizations and people are now coming together to make it better.
“There’s a lot of good people that are focused on the right things so I have a positive outlook for the future of Pine Avenue and the city market,” said Poletti, who served chicken soup to customers during Friday’s event.
Nyland, a DeVeaux resident who started her coffee-and-tea-on-the-go business a year and a half ago, said she heard from a lot of market “regulars” who were excited to see more activity than they have seen in recent years. She said she’s looking forward to coming back in the future.
“It’s so nice to see people interacting with one another,” she said.
The SnobKnockers — a trio that includes local bed and breakfast owner Shelia Zuni, Michael Sheffield and George Kobas — entertained the market crowd throughout the morning and into the afternoon.
Zuni said the band would return to the market if invited and she hopes other local bands will begin to view the space as a place where they can — like the farmers and the vendors — engage with the community.
“There’s so much potential here,” she said.
Anne Marie DeRusso agrees.
The new director for the City Market helped organize Friday’s Artisan Day. While it is the final special event planned for 2022, DeRusso said Field and Fork Network and other partners intend to spend the winter months planning more events and, hopefully, more market improvements next year. She said part of the effort will involve exploring and promoting more of the market’s rich history.
“Mainly, it’s bringing business into the city, but it’s also getting good local produce into people’s hands,” she said.
How can people in and around Niagara Falls support the market moving forward?
DeRusso said, simply: Show up, not just on special event days but as frequently as possible.
“If we want the market to be successful, then we need people to come out,” she said.
Leadership Niagara, the longest running leadership development organization in New York State, has selected Field & Fork Network as their 2022 Organization of the Year. The annual award recognizes an organization whose work positively impacts on the quality of life in Niagara County and strengthens our communities. This year Field & Fork Network was selected by a diverse group of leaders, across sectors, as the winner. The organization was selected because our work exemplifies Leadership Niagara’s mission and core values of excellence, visionary leadership, lifelong learning, regional partnerships, diversity and inclusion and societal responsibility.