For Immediate Release - September 26, 2013

Patrick Administration Visits Westfield Farmers’ Market to Highlight Local, Healthy Food Options for SNAP Recipients

WESTFIELD – Thursday, September 26, 2013 – Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Rick Sullivan and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) John Polanowicz today joined federal, state and local officials to tour the Westfield Farmers’ Market. The visit  highlighted the healthy food choices people can make at farmers’ markets and demonstrated accessibility for people using the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

“Fresh produce from local farmers is something that everyone should be able to afford and enjoy,” said Secretary Sullivan. “EBT terminals at farmers markets give low-income families the opportunity to not only support agriculture in their communities, but also to enjoy healthy, fresh food instead of relying on processed options.”

The tour helped to promote local farms and agri-businesses that provide locally grown food that tastes and looks better at a more affordable price than imported food. Officials participated in a brief speaking program and helped prepare a fresh fruit salad with the UMass Extension Nutrition Education Program.

“The Westfield Farmers’ Market is an excellent example of our Commonwealth’s commitment to the health of our residents and communities,” said Secretary Polanowicz. “Programs like SNAP provide healthy choices to those who need assistance, while also supporting local products and businesses.”

Secretary Sullivan and Secretary Polanowicz were joined by Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) Commissioner Greg Watson, Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Commissioner Stacey Monahan, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Northeast Regional Administrator James Arena-DeRosa and local officials at the event.

Currently, Massachusetts has 249 farmers markets, 118 of which accept SNAP benefits. 

“The public is discovering the health benefits of locally grown, fresh food,” said Commissioner Watson. “With the rise of urban agriculture complementing our constantly growing farms in suburban and rural Massachusetts, all people can enjoy nutritious choices grown close to their kitchens.”

“DTA is committed to helping provide clients with healthy food options, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and farmer’s markets play an important role in reaching that goal,” said Commissioner Monahan. “I am happy to join community members to bring attention to farmer’s market and the initiatives offered here that will help our clients eat healthier at a lower cost.”

Find a farmers’ market near you using DAR’s Massgrown Map: http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/map.htm

Learn more about using SNAP benefits at Massachusetts’ Farmers’ Markets: http://www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/docs/snap-consumer-info.pdf

Learn more about the Massachusetts’ Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/markets/farmers-markets/farmers-market-coupon-program.html

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/mdarcommish.