LEWISTON — A second serving of fresh fruits and veggies, for free.

That’s the aim of the new Double Value Coupon program at the Kennedy Park and St. Mary’s farmers markets, starting Tuesday, July 20, supported through a grant from a Connecticut group. For every dollar spent on produce at the markets by customers using some form of assistance — Women, Infants and Children funds or what used to be known as food stamps (WIC and SNAP) — the grant will match up to $10 with a coupon.

Customers can either spend that additional coupon on more fruits and vegetables on the spot or save it for later in the month, according to Sherie Blumenthal, food access coordinator for Lots to Gardens in the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center.

Double Value has been tried around the country but next week will be the first time it’s being offered here.

“We were so excited,” Blumenthal said. “It benefits both the customer and the farmers. The farmers don’t lose out, I think that’s the best part of the program.”

The nonprofit Cultivating Community, out of Portland, applied for the grant to Wholesome Wave, a private foundation that advocates eating locally. Cultivating Community is partnering with St. Mary’s to share the funds with the Lewiston markets, as well as sharing them with a handful of others around the state.

One-half to two-thirds of the customers who shop at the two Lewiston markets use state aid, Blumenthal said. They’ve worked hard with outreach, she said, leaving flyers with WIC and the Department of Health and Human Services, and talking to people in the neighborhoods.

She’s hoping news of the new program, and what amounts to up to $40 in free fruits and vegetables a month, encourages more to stop by.

The Lewiston Farmers Market is held in Kennedy Park from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, the St. Mary’s Farmers Market from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays on the corner of Lafayette Street and Campus Avenue.

Each market has about eight vendors, Blumenthal said. Their food is fresh from the farm, a lot of it is grown with organic practices and often the farmers work their own booths. They’ve had staples like beets, carrots and lettuce, with cucumbers and squash coming.

“Tomatoes are just around the corner — people are always asking for that,” she said.

Double Value will run until the grant money runs out, which depends upon the number of people who use it, Blumenthal said. She’d like to see it go at least until the end of August.

For more information, call (207) 513-3848 or go to [email protected]

[email protected]


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