Thursday, September 12, 2013

‘Fresh Rewards’ stretches Oregon Trail benefits

When the U.S. House and Senate voted to reduce “food stamp” benefits, I contacted the Ashland Food Co-op and Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market and thanked them for accepting Oregon Trail, the Oregon version of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card.

Oregon Trail card, which is the Oregon version of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ("food stamps")
In past writings I’d emphasized co-ops’ and farmers’ markets’ roles in placing healthy, nutritious food within reach of people with limited incomes. Many people believe it to be much healthier to buy food that was locally-grown. Plus writer Barbara Kingsolver, in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, refers to the cost in “calories,” fossil fuels, when foods are transported over long distances.

I make it my practice to express appreciation as often or more often than I criticize, and with the votes in Washington prevalent in my concerns, it seemed ample time to express my gratitude that these markets accept Oregon Trail.

(Oregon caseworkers deserve appreciation too, for the help they give to applicants.)

I heard from the growers’ and crafters’ market this week, specifically from the administrator of its Facebook page. During September (Hunger Action Month), through a program called Fresh Rewards, Oregon Trail recipients who redeem at least $4 at the Saturday Medford Market will receive an additional $4 in tokens that day (while supplies last).

In 2011, more than $69 million in SNAP benefits were redeemed in Jackson County, Oregon, according to On its website, Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market noted that less than 1 percent of that was spent at the growers’ market.

The purpose of Fresh Rewards is to create a “healthier, more sustainable community by putting freshly picked, healthy foods onto the tables of those most in need while supporting local farmers and ranchers.” Agencies that would like to support the Fresh Rewards program are encouraged to contact market General Manager Lori Hopkinson at

The Medford Saturday Market takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekly, until Nov. 3, at The Commons, North Bartlett Street and East Sixth Street.

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