by Beth Heller
Thanksgiving is the quintessential seasonal and local holiday. From the first Thanksgiving, when settlers and native inhabitants shared a meal, the table was laden with game hunted nearby, and produce harvested in the surrounding fields and woods. Since that first feast, Thanksgiving has experienced a thousand make-overs – deep-fried turkey, tofurky, jellied cranberry, fresh cranberry – the styles change with each food magazine Thanksgiving issue. At the essence, though, Thanksgiving is a communal affair and a shared table.
This past week at Live54218, we gathered the work group dedicated to making it possible for people to use their Food Share benefits (EBT) at our local Farmers Markets to review the summer season and take stock of program performance. The Farmers Market EBT program brings electronic hardware, special currency and vendor participation together to allow Food Share users to exchange electronic currency for “market bucks” that can be used at the markets. There’s also a “Double Your Bucks” matching program sponsored by Hospital Sisters Health Systems (HSHS), that matches EBT dollars with a special currency that can be used on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Making the Farmers Markets accessible to all members of our community is about more than just increasing access to healthy, local foods. Markets offer a place where people can come together, enjoy music, free yoga or other activities, fresh air, and connect with others. When we come together, we begin to know each other better, gain trust in our neighbors and discover common interests.
It’s also easy to lose track of the effort required to make this sort of collaborative community event happen. So, in the spirit of giving thanks, we’d like to send a big shout out to our partners in this effort. On Broadway Inc.’s Wednesday Market, the Market on Military, the Oneida Farmer’s Market and Downtown Green Bay Inc.’s Saturday Farmers Market have worked to advertise, market and educate the community about EBT and Double Your Bucks. Representatives from WIC, Brown County Human Services, UW-Extension and the Aging & Disabilities Resource Center have dedicated their time and energy to making these programs available to their clients, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan for printing marketing materials, HSHS for their generous funding of Double Your Bucks and a grant from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation’s Basic Needs Giving Partnership that has supported the expansion of these efforts across our community.
This is just one more amazing example of the collaborative spirit that is alive and growing in Greater Green Bay, making the sum of our efforts so much greater than our individual parts. And for this we are most thankful of all.