Guest Column: Fresh lemonade benefits Rifle SNAP shoppers
The Rifle Farmers Market has undergone a lot of changes this year. The market has moved locations, changed days of the week and added scores of vendors, including Clark’s Orchards, Skybam Bakery, Dwyer Greens and Flowers and many more.
The biggest change, by far, is the “Lemonade Project.” If you have been to the market this season, perhaps you have had a chance to order a tasty, refreshing glass of fresh squeezed lemonade from enthusiastic volunteers. You may not have known that by purchasing one of the $2.50 lemonades, you were helping families in need access healthy foods at the market.
The idea for this project came from market committee member Hannah Klausman, who had experience working with the original “Lemonade Project” at the Newport, Ore., Farmers Market, when she lived there.
“I knew the Rifle market was seeking new ways to boost shoppers and increase produce available at the market,” she said. “And I remembered the lemonade stand and how it not only increased fruit and vegetable sales, but also encouraged a whole new demographic to come to the market. I pitched the idea to the committee and they were behind it 100 percent. Beyond that, running a lemonade stand is just plain fun, like getting to be a kid again.”
So far, the Lemonade Project is exceeding all expectations, and is a huge hit at the market. LiveWell Garfield County provided grant funding to purchase all the necessary equipment for the lemonade stand. LiveWell and the market committee chose to make the lemonade with locally-sourced honey instead of granulated sugar in order to combat high sugary content drinks, provide healthier lemonade, and support Colorado Mountain Honey, a vendor at the market.
What is the Lemonade Project?
The Lemonade Project is a social enterprise sponsored by the Rifle Farmers Market and LiveWell Garfield County and run by community volunteers. Volunteers make and sell fresh-squeezed lemonade at the market.
What is the purpose?
Proceeds from the lemonade sales will fund a program benefiting shoppers at the market who participate in SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps). The project provides SNAP shoppers with matching funds, up to $6 each week, when they use their benefits card at the market to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.
How does it work?
SNAP shoppers can use their electronic benefits card to purchase $1 tokens using our ATM machine at the market manager’s table. The farmers market will give them a matching dollar amount in tokens, up to $6. These tokens can be used at the market to purchase food: Fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, honey, bread and plants that produce food, such as tomatoes, peppers, herbs, etc.
This program encourages low-income shoppers to come to the market and helps to stretch their limited food dollars while adding healthy fruits and vegetables to their diet.
The Rifle Farmers Market is committed to providing access to fresh, locally grown foods for everyone.
Dana Wood is coordinator of the LiveWell Garfield County program and a member of the Rifle Farmers Market committee.
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Rifle and New Castle are seeing decent increases in tax revenue, according to financial administrators.