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Kent gets $38,000 federal grant to assist farmers' market project

By Thomas Gallick | Staff Writer Published: February 21, 2013 4:00 AM

Kent City Council accepted $38,855 in grant funding Wednesday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to go toward educating the public on how food stamp benefits can be used at the Haymaker Farmers' Market.

Bridget Susel, Kent's community development director, said the formal acceptance of the funds will allow the city to start repaying the Haymaker Farmers' Market for the work its director, Kelly Ferry, has already been doing in developing an advertising and awareness campaign about using the benefits at the market. The market has wireless equipment that allows patrons to swipe their food stamp benefits cards, or debit and credit cards, to purchase tokens that can be exchanged for food products with the market's vendors.

Susel said Ferry has been working on the advertising campaign since October, when city officials learned they would eventually receive the grant funding.

"Costs are eligible (for reimbursement) from that time forward," Susel said.

Susel said she felt seeking the grant was important because many of the city's impoverished residents may not know they can use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Women, Infants and Children (WIC) benefits to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the market.

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Also, Kent has not had a true supermarket in city limits since 2007, when Giant Eagle left University Plaza on Water Street, so residents have to travel to surrounding communities for a wide selection of fresh food if they do not shop at the farmers' market.

The city and Haymaker Farmers' Market will have about two years to allocate the grant funding toward educational programs before the funding period expires.

Susel said market officials will partner with local nonprofit agencies to reach out to the agencies' clients, and inform them food stamp benefits can be used at the farmers' market.

"There are a lot of families in Portage County that are receiving food stamp benefits that are not aware of the farmers' market, or that they can use their benefits at the market," Ferry said previously. "This is a great way to get the message out there."

During the market's winter schedule, which lasts until May 18, the market opens every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Junction 211 building at 211 Cherry St.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1126 or tgallick@recordpub.com

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anonymous Feb 23, 2013 8:01 PM

Does Acme not count as a supermarket in the city? Or are they referring to the downtown area?

anonymous Feb 21, 2013 3:03 PM

Factualinfo, great points! It's a two way street on grant money. The Federal Government gives/awards the money, and in order to be received, it first has to be requested by a state or local (county, city, village, township) government.

anonymous Feb 21, 2013 12:20 PM

I have mixed feeling about this grant. First, I agree with redleg about why need grant money when you can simply inform those on food stamps about the program when they get their other info. Yet, at the same time, there is all this grant money out there by the govt. so I'm glad someone in Kent took the time to put together a proposal to access the funds that were going to go to someone anyways, why not this program. Yet, in the bigger picture, all the grant monies in general by the federal govt that is going broke, is part of why the system is broke in the first place. It might seem like a little bit, but start adding up all the little bits the govt give for so many things and you can see why we are broke. Kind of ironic in a way, that soon there will be thousands of military families not getting their pay checks because of govt ineptness (from all parties in congress who can't sort out govt waste from true need)who will soon be on the food stamp lines and need access to programs like this.

anonymous Feb 21, 2013 10:56 AM

Redleg - dollars were awarded to the City of Kent, so the city will maintain the public records including the expenses. Just give them a call or send them an email requesting the disbursements. They can send them to you by email.

anonymous Feb 21, 2013 9:15 AM

I read the article above. Now I know the market accepts food stamps. Why does the farmers market need $38,855.00 for advertising? How did the Feds determine that amount? Print a couple of signs get some fliers printed up @wordsmith/kinkos, get a couple free community service announcements from WNIR, and the RC. Maybe, "heres a thought", maybe even have the folks that work at the food stamp office tell the clients you can use your benes at the farmers market. I would like to read how Susel and Ferry spend the money. Maybe an itemize list would be good reading for the taxpayer. What a waste of money. No wonder we are broke!