City asks locals to share the wealth

On December 5, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Online fundraiser for Mobile Farmers Market
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Locals are being asked to pitch in to help keep the Mobile Farmer’s Market rolling.

Locals are being asked to pitch in to help keep the Mobile Farmer’s Market rolling.

By Elizabeth Sheeran

Most Americans sat down last week to celebrate life in a land of plenty, with a holiday that usually involves so much food we think of leftovers as part of the tradition. But a growing number of locals are having a harder time putting any kind of meal on the table these days. And healthy food choices are even tougher to come by.

Now city officials are hoping to tap into the holiday spirit during this season of giving, by launching an online fundraising campaign to help low-income residents buy fresh produce from Somerville’s Mobile Farmers Market.

“We’re really hoping that residents will give this holiday season to help their neighbors provide nutritious food for their families,” said David Hudson, director of Shape Up Somerville, which runs the Mobile Farmers Market program.

The mobile market truck brings affordable fruits and vegetables to senior center and housing development parking lots, to people who don’t always have access to healthy fresh food because of cost and transportation challenges. A matching funds program has helped the neediest shoppers stretch their produce budget even further, by cutting prices in half for residents who qualify for federal food assistance or low-income housing.

Mobile Farmers Market sales have nearly doubled since the program started just two years ago, and an increasing share of this year’s sales went to shoppers eligible for matching funds. But a $5,000 matching funds grant from the Walmart Foundation was used up by September this year, and the subsidies can’t come out of the city budget, so Shape Up Somerville is asking citizens to chip in for the cause.

mobile_1_webResidents can donate online at Citizinvestor.com, a so-called crowd-funding website dedicated to raising money for specific projects sponsored by municipalities. Hudson said the city holiday fundraiser gives Somerville residents a way to directly help people in their own community. “This really is local giving,” said Hudson. “The kid whose dad can bring home more carrots, apples, peas and greens from the market because of matching funds just may be the student who sits next to your own child in school.”

Over 70 percent of Somerville public school students qualify for subsidized meal programs. And life just got harder for many residents last month, since the federal food assistance benefits commonly known as food stamps were cut abruptly when a boost from the 2009 federal stimulus program came to an end.

Because of the way Citizinvestor works, the Mobile Farmer’s Market has to reach a minimum goal of just over $3,000 in online donor commitments before any money actually goes to the project.  If the campaign doesn’t hit that target by its January 19 deadline, contributions are never charged to donor credit cards. The project was two thirds of the way there by the start of this week, with more than $2,000 in pledges from 49 “citizinvestors.” And sponsors really hope to raise the $5,000 or more needed to keep matching funds going through next summer.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who said he plans to make a personal donation to the campaign, said the popularity of the mobile market shows that local families of all backgrounds are focusing more on nutrition. “But it is also an indicator of real need,” said the mayor. “This community has a history of coming together to support shared goals and I’m sure we can count on Somervillians to help other Somervillians and ensure this vital program continues.”

Tax-deductible contributions can be made at www.citizinvestor.com/project/somerville-mobile-farmers-market.

 

 

4 Responses to “City asks locals to share the wealth”

  1. Margaret Jones says:

    Way to go, Shape Up Somerville!

  2. Amen says:

    I love this idea, but won’t give a dime without knowing it’s being run better than SNAP, WIC, etc. remove the fraud and I’m a happy contributor. The people who will be receiving this are overwhelmingly working the system. I want to jump in and help needy people, but not the way it’s currently done in Massachusetts

  3. freedomforthepeople says:

    I guess that the block grant money went into one of the corrupt administrations hands , shape up somerville is a fraud they pay huge saleries to certain people that make beleive they are really needed.I know when government gets involved in what you eat, drink ect. we live in a police state,this should not be the case and by the way Tufts did this study not somerville ,they pilfered it from them or gave them another building for free ,keep paying your taxes ,so they can be stolen.To ask the tax payer to pay for something that you mismanaged or intentionaly stole the money is beyond words ,wake up you dumb sob,and stop these elected officals from stealing your money and excepting it as the norm ,it is not.I know many of you have the wealth not to care about your fellow man that lives in east somerville who do not have the resourses that you have have you lost all compasion for your fellow man ,I hope not lets stop this now.

  4. Joanie says:

    The locals have no more wealth to share. Maybe Tufts, or all of the outsiders who come in to enjoy our city’s festivals, road races, etc., can pay for it. We are too busy already paying taxes to keep the city afloat and pay for all of the aforementioned festivals, etc.

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