Niagara Falls City Market vendors will now be accepting Double Up Food Bucks benefits to further provide those on SNAP benefits access to healthy foods.
The Field and Fork Network was on hand to make the announcement Friday morning along with Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino, New York State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, and members of the Buffalo Bills organization including cornerback Siran Neal.
Double Up Food Bucks is a nutrition incentive program funded by the state, the United States Department of Agriculture’s neutron institute on food and agriculture, and private foundations. The program offers individuals and families with SNAP benefits a $1 for $1 match for all their purchases at the market, up to $20 per day.
The Buffalo Bills Foundation also gave the program a $25,000 grant to support it, which they also gave last year.
Tom Lowe, the project director for the Field & Fork network, said that improving the market was the number one priority of the Niagara Falls Food Action Plan that the city council passed in 2018, with the acceptance of SNAP benefits and Double Up Food Bucks a key step to improve it.
The market was authorized to accept SNAP benefits starting September of last year, with Lowe adding that 1 in 3 Niagara Falls residents receive those benefits.
“In the two months SNAP was accepted in the 2021 season, more than $4,000 in SNAP transactions were processed,” Lowe said. “That’s more than $4,000 residents no longer had to take out of their cash budgets, that can be used for transportation, rent, child care, and other expenses.”
Morinello said that all the groups that worked to make this possible work to teach area youth about the importance of fresh food and sees a bright future for the market.
“It benefits citizens, farmers, and as we move forward, it will show children how important it is,” Morinello said.
Mayor Restaino said that earlier this summer, the city concluded its acquisition of the city market and plans on working with its partners of growing the city market.
“We feel not only will this be, as described, a centerpoint for fresh fruit and fresh vegetables,” Restaino said. “We also think this should be an area where we are able to market and showcase the many products that Niagara County has to offer.”
Vendors at the market were already accepting the Double Up benefits as it got busy on Friday. Sheri Senek, of Senek Farms in Ransomville, said that Senek Farms has been setting up at the market for over 80 years, back when it would come by horse and buggy.
“The purpose is to bring fresh fruit to the city, so customers can come and use their SNAP benefits,” Senek said. “We’re trying to grow the market, bring in new vendors, and increase customers.”
“Anything will help,” said Jim Miller, of Miller’s Farm in Hamburg, who has been selling at this market since 1982, setting up on Friday’s for the last five years.
Friday was also Kid’s Day at the market, where kids from the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls club got to explore what the market had to offer and get a photo with Neal and Billy Buffalo.
The Double Up Food Bucks program is already accepted at the North Tonawanda City Market, the Lockport Community Market, the Cornell Community Extension Veggie Van, and several markets in Downtown Buffalo. More program information is available at https://doubleupnys.com.
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