Farmer's Marker Relocation

Grant for low-income families ends

by Celia Shortt

Newnan families eligible for SNAP/EBT benefits will lose out on a $5,000 grant due to the Our Community Farmers Market no longer being allowed to do business in Newnan.

SNAP — Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — is a federal program that provides nutrition assistance to millions of low-income individuals and families. It also provides economic benefits to communities and is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net.

Shortly after the Jan. 14 Newnan City Council meeting in which the council unanimously voted to find a new vendor for the market, OCFM Co-Managers Marianne Pizzitola and Matthew Tucker received word they had been awarded a $10,000 grant by Wholesome Wave Georgia to help feed needy families in the cities where they operated markets, Newnan and Peachtree City.

Pizzitola and Tucker had been in contact with WWG for almost two years prior to being selected for the grant. WWG is a nonprofit organization that “strengthens local food communities by empowering networks of farmers to facilitate access to and awareness of healthy food choices.”

The grant awarded to OCFM gave them $5,000 to use in Newnan and Peachtree City, totaling $10,000. Since they are no longer in Newnan, they had to turn down that portion of the grant.

Under the grant, for every SNAP/EBT dollar spent on produce or food by an individual or a family, they would get two dollars worth of food, doubling their benefit and giving more money to the local farmer.

It was five thousand dollars (with) the impact of $10,000, said Tucker of the grant.

“(It) helps farmers, local economy, and has a huge trickle-down effect for supporting the local community in a very direct way from farmer to customer to the market, (and) to the local area,” said Pizzitola.

“Newnan has a greater need for this program than Peachtree City,” she added. “And that was what hurt the most after we were awarded this.”

Also in the terms of the grant, OCFM has to raise 15 percent of the total grant — $750 — by September to give back to WWG. That money goes back into WWG to continue to partner with OCFM and other markets.

When asked about the situation, Newnan Mayor Keith Brady offered no comment because the OCFM is no longer in Newnan.

“It’s just something that happened after the fact,” he said.

Newnan Business Development Director Hasco W. Craver IV also weighed in.

“I hope that Our Community Farmers Market would consider sharing this opportunity with the future market as I'm certain they recognize that the ultimate goal of the funding is to provide SNAP recipients with fresh food,” he said.

Under WWG’s terms, OCFM has to partner with another farmers market affiliated with WWG and with them being unable to do business in Newnan per the Jan. 14 city council meeting decision, a partnership seems unlikely.

“I hope that everybody recognizes that the SNAP participants are the individuals losing an opportunity to access fresh food,” he responded.

In the meantime, Pizzitola and Tucker are working with WWG to partner with their farmers market in Douglasville, Ga., so the grant money they lost will not go to waste. Even with OCFM no longer being in Newnan, Pizzitola and Tucker still plan to utilize the $5,000 for their market in Peachtree City.

“Our goal now going forward it we’re going to roll this program out,” said Pizzitola. “We’ll start to double SNAP dollars, and we are going to look for people to partner with us to help raise that $750 to keep it our community.”

The OCFM organizers are also working to expand their market in Peachtree City to two days instead of one. Currently, it is on Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at MacDuff Crossing near Flying Biscuit in Peachtree City.

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