Sunday, July 8, 2012

Farmers Market, Dreaded Visit 3

The farmers market in town had already had two strikes against it.  I dreaded going back.  I had never before encountered a farmers market that made me unhappy 3 visits in a row, after all.  What would I do?

Quite possibly, I'd burst into a thousand pieces.  My stress level would reach the critical point, and cause me to explode.  I'm not prone to explosive reactions, so I was hesitant to go back.

See, the more I thought about all of the vendors that didn't accept the wooden tokens that you could purchase for use only at the farmers market, the more upset I got.  At first, it was all about me.

But I had a lot of time to stew on it.  After a while, I realized that the problem was way bigger than me.

You see, if people of low income want to shop at the farmers market, this gives them the opportunity.  They can purchase the wooden nickels via United Way and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and buy fresh, healthy food from local vendors.  This was not always possible.  These tokens provide them with an opportunity to eat healthy, while at the same time, giving their money back to the community.  It's a win-win situation for everyone.

Unless, of course, not all food vendors accept the tokens.  We saw what happened when I tried to use them.

I discovered different reasons for why this occurred.

1)  Some vendors had no clue what the tokens were.

They stared at them like they were strange foreign objects:  Curious, interesting objects, but strange and foreign, all the same.  Who would want to accept a token that they knew nothing about?  I certainly wouldn't.

2)  Some vendors knew what they were, but had no clue what to do with them.

Nobody had spoken to them about it, beyond explaining that they were in existence.  What good does that do for them?  I probably wouldn't want to accept one of the tokens if that was all I knew, either.

3)  Some people just flat-out didn't want to accept them.

Ok... that reason made me mad.  Sure, they may not be very convenient, but I can't support someone who won't deal with a little inconvenience when there are people that can't afford to shop at the farmers market without the tokens.

I'm not prone to taking the easy way out.  

I wanted fresh, local food, and I wanted to know if my incessant (and rather annoying) questioning of vendors had managed to do any good.

I knew that I could use my remaining wooden tokens at the table that sold the yummy, yummy salsa, because they've accepted mine from the first moment I brought them out.  Those two women will always get my business when I go to the farmers market, simply because they are doing what I consider to be the right thing.

What about everyone else, though?  Had any progress been made?

Yes.

One vendor, who sells baked goods, saw me as I approached.  She came over to tell me that she finally got her questions answered, and she was accepting the wooden tokens.

I was so happy that I began to worry that my overly wide smile would end up cracking my face!

Smiles of people who expect the worst can be kinda scary when they've been proven  wrong.
I think it's all the pent-up stress getting released!


Naturally, I immediately went to her tent to use one of my $5 wooden tokens.

Afterwards, other vendors asked me if I had learned anything new about it.  They actually wanted to know more about the SNAP program!  I was so excited!

I left the farmers market with a lot of wonderful stuff.  I wasn't able to get even close to as many vegetables as I'd like, but this visit was a very good one.

Those two funny looking things in front of the eggs aren't squash...
they're cucumbers!  How cool is that?!
This is a good start, but there's still more to do.

Upon viewing the volunteer sheet for the United Way, there appears to be a lack of volunteers to take care of the EBT card reader at the farmers market.  I mean, there are volunteers, but they seem to have a hard time finding them.  Perhaps I should consider this.

There doesn't appear to be very much knowledge about this program, at all.  Volunteers that I talked to don't seem to have a high volume of people taking advantage of this opportunity.  Rather, it's not used nearly as much as it should be.

This is another way that I may be able to help.  Perhaps I could talk to the newspaper... see if they'd run a story about the SNAP program's involvement.  I've seen nothing in the Daily News, so it's quite possible that the main people that this program targets have no clue that it even exists.

If you're not aware of something, you won't participate in it.

Of course, if I go by that route, I'll need to start by getting all of the necessary information to all of the vendors...

Which means I'll need to visit United Way...

As well as anything else associated with the program...

Then, I'll have to volunteer, in order to ensure someone is there to care for the card reader each week.

Is it just me, or does this seem like a lot of footwork?

I can't deny, though, that if you want something to be fixed, you need to take an active part in getting it done.  Looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me...


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