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Maximizing Community Engagement

Market Community Table programs and themed market days are great ways to spark enthusiasm and increase community engagement at your market. Community Table programs welcome a local non-profit, student group, or service group to set up a booth at the market to share their mission and current projects with community members. Ideally, markets invite organizations with similar values and missions as the market - increasing access to and building community around local, healthy, sustainable food. Loudoun Valley (VA) Markets Coop has a great application and general rules/guidelines for their Community Table program which can be viewed/downloaded here.

Themed market days can be implemented separately or planned in conjunction with Community Table visitors, scheduling organizations to match the themed day with which they fit most closely (e.g., Youth Leadership Day; Mother/Fathers' Day; Compost Day; Backyard Chickens Day; Soil Testing Day - contact your county UGA Extension agent and ask him/her to come share gardening tips and offer soil testing for customers;  Weather(wo)man Day - invite a local TV/radio weather(wo)man to talk with customers about how weather affects farms/gardens and about weather forecasting).

Community Tables and market day themes can be tailored to showcase and celebrate the uniqueness of your community, helping to attract new customers and give regular customers something different and exciting to look forward to at the market!

Farmers' Market Ambassadors

Market Ambassadors are an excellent way to share information about the market, its vendors, and the Double Value Coupon Program! Whether part of Georgia's grant-funded My Market Club or an enthusiastic volunteer, Market Ambassadors can play a big role in increasing community engagement, serving as the face of the market on market days and in the community. Ambassadors welcome and orient newbies to the market layout, explain payment options, and let them know about current or upcoming special events at the market. They welcome back and engage regular market customers, keeping them updated with market happenings and generally help to make sure everyone has an enjoyable shopping experience at the market.

In the community, Ambassadors work to increase food access where it is most needed and promote the use of SNAP at farmers' markets. They may use the market's social media sites to share information about the market and events.

Read more about the My Market Club on the Georgia Organics site here!

Bring Out the Community: Walking Groups to the Market

Get your community out to the market for a tour! During the tour, you can share the benefits of shopping at the market and explain how the Double Value Coupon Program works. Reach out to community organizations to find existing groups that may be interested!

From NYC Health:

"Why lead a walking tour to a farmers’ market?

  • Farmers’ market walking tours are a great way to introduce community members to the many benefits of shopping at their local farmers’ markets.
  • Participating organizations that include a farmers’ market walking tour in their Health Bucks distribution plan have much greater success in achieving high Health Bucks redemption rates.
  • Walking tours are also a great way to make sure your clients know where their closest farmers’ market is located, how to spend their Health Bucks and how to use their SNAP benefits/EBT at the markets to get even more!"

View the complete guidelines provided by NYC Department of Health for their Health Bucks initiative, an incentive program like our Double Value Coupon Program.

Street Team Toolkit

Not sure how to get the word out about your market and WWG to the hard-to-reach populations in your community? Download this toolkit put together by our awesome Outreach Coordinator Rachael Kane that details the steps to plan & organize street teams, recruit volunteers, and target areas for canvassing. STREET TEAM TOOLKIT.docx Download .docx

May's posts will focus on grassroots organizing and community engagement. Stay tuned for more great tips!

Example Intern Syllabus & SNAP Challenge

Successfully managing interns requires direction and support in order to maximize their contribution to the team. Check out this intern syllabus put together by Main Street Statesboro Farmers Market! The SNAP Challenge is coming up May 10-16th! Please help us promote this week-long event that challenges people to live on $4.17/day, the amount a food stamp recipient receives on average. You can find a template for your marketing use here and add your logo to the lower right. An e-blast template fan be found here. This is a great way to get community members on board with the doubling program at your market and experience how hard it is to eat healthy on an extremely limited food budget. Participants in the challenge will register for free on our website and be able to double their budget when they shop at a WWG partner market. Please note that challenge participants will not actually be able to receive matching tokens when they shop at the market, but can spend $8.34 for the day instead of the normal $4.17.

You can register on the WWG website for the challenge here!

Example Market-Day Volunteer Roles & Responsibilities

View Memphis Farmers Market's entire list of market volunteer job descriptions here! Below are a couple examples:

PAVILION PATROL

You rule beneath the “big tops”! You’re on constant patrol throughout the market, looking for ways to make the market experience the best it can be for visitors and vendors alike. Smile! Skill Set: Customer service-minded, safety-minded, high energy, task-oriented, focused, friendly, self-managed, and self-propelled! Responsibilities: Keep the area picked up, clean, and safe! Do vendors need a break? Does a customer need your help transporting purchases to the car? Does the Petsitting Tent need your assistance? Do the trashcans need emptying? Are the bathrooms stocked with soap, paper towels, and toilet paper? What can you do to help our market visitors AND volunteers? Your free-roaming domain encompasses all things that contribute to the perfect market experience!

MARKET INFORMATION TABLE

You sit at the console of MFM Mission Control in the “point position” for everything at the market in terms of information, customer service, merchandise purchases, EBT and credit-card transactions, and board-member support. And you get to meet and chat with the market regulars and newcomers, too! Skill Set: People-oriented, detail-oriented, ability to handle monetary transactions, multitasker, and focused personality with a take-charge, pro-active mindset! Responsibilities: You are a frontline ambassador for the market: greet and engage market visitors. SMILE!! WELCOME!! Duties include: Sell and keep inventory of MFM promotional items Handle credit-card sales and EBT and token transactions Answer questions and access informational aids at the table

http://memfarmersmkt.wpengine.com/volunteers-on-market-day/

12 Ways to Connect with Volunteers

April's posts will focus on training and maintaining volunteers and interns for outreach!

12 Ways to Connect with Volunteers

At its simplest level, volunteer retention is purely a matter of making volunteers feel good about their assignment and themselves. If the experience is satisfying and rewarding, the volunteers will continue to participate.

People who feel connected are those who experience a sense of belonging—a sense of being part of a relationship with others. In a highly mobile society, this need often goes unmet. Volunteers should not be regarded as different from paid staff in any way except their compensation, which you can provide in a number of ways.

1. Seek their input

Because they are often new to the agency, volunteers are uniquely suited to recognizing opportunities to enhance services or internal systems. Be sincere in trying to understand volunteers’ point of view.

2. Create a mutually validating climate

Praise goes a long way, as long as it’s honest and specific.

3. Communicate their contributions

Leaders at all levels in the agency should spread the word about positive volunteer achievements. Have volunteers write newsletter articles or blog posts about their experiences. When other volunteers read these articles, it reminds them why they are involved as well.

4. Address them by name

All staff members should understand the importance of learning the names of their volunteers.

5. Invite them in

Invitations communicate esteem and respect. Include volunteers in work-related and social functions, including parties, meetings and training sessions.

6. Keep them informed

Nothing is as fundamental to a team’s effectiveness as a common sense of what the team is trying to achieve. Staff and volunteers should see themselves as equal partners.

7. Encourage their creativity

Organizations that are willing to take the chance and learn from their volunteers unleash a tremendous amount of innovation and service improvement.

8. Set high standards

If the expectations are too easy to meet, people will not feel special about their participation.

9. Monitor volunteer regard

Scrutinize the views of paid staff members, as well as volunteers’ own views of themselves. Try to generate positive ideas for improving negative situations by asking, “What can you or I do to make this organization more like the kind of place you want it to be?”

10. Give them ownership in the mission

Make sure that volunteers or volunteer teams can point to something and say, “This is mine.”

11. Offer sincere and consistent recognition

When recognition is given to a team consisting of both paid staff and volunteers, the sense of connection is very powerful.

12. Promote interaction

It's lonely out there, so bring people together for training, potlucks, and other events where they can share their “war stories.”

by Rick Lynch | Georgia Nonprofit NOW | http://www.gcn.org/articles/12-Ways-to-Connect-with-Volunteers

Don't forget to check the Grants page - many

newly posted grants have upcoming deadlines!

How Many People in Your County Receive Food Stamps?

Another great tool for estimating SNAP participants in your community!

Slate’s interactive tool for finding local SNAP data. To find out how many people participate in the program in your area and how that number has changed since 2000, enter your ZIP code, city, or county and state.

Check it out here! http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2013/04/food_stamp_recipients_by_county_an_interactive_tool_showing_local_snap_data.html

Also, check out grant opportunities recently posted with April and May deadlines!

How to Start and Manage a Farmers Market

An interview with Jodi Daley. "Daley is a problem solver. Upon moving to Warner Robins, Georgia one of the first things she noticed was the city’s lack of a farmers market, despite being surrounded by local growers and producers. Starting with just a handful of vendors she organized the International City Farmers Market in 2011 on a shoestring budget, and has seen the market grow from just several thousand customers in its first year to nearly 30,000 in 2014. Despite the market’s growth and popularity, Daley’s original goals have remained firmly intact: support local growers; promote healthy, whole foods; and enhance community identity. She encourages International City Farmers Market visitors to know their farmers, know their food and keep their money within the local economy.

Now a member of several national farmers market networks, Daley is also Treasurer of the Georgia Food Policy Council and has helped develop Land to Hand, the market’s charitable arm."

Read the interview here on EthicalFoods.com!

Ten Ways to Fund Your EBT Program

Ten Ways to Fund Your EBT Program

Click here for the full article!

Vendor Fees

Shopper Support

Shopper Surcharge or Checkout Fee for Using Credit Cards

In-kind Donations / Partnerships While financial support is critical to the success of SNAP programs, non-monetary donations of time and services can reduce costs while fulfilling important market needs. Corporate volunteer teams can help with direct outreach for the program by distributing flyers and other promotional materials. University students are often willing to provide free graphic design work or assist with program evaluation. Local printing or media outlets may be willing to give the market free printing or distribution services. Reach out to local organizations and business to discover how they may be willing to contribute to your program outside of financial support.

Market Apparel & Branded Items

Annual Appeals Reaching out to market shoppers at the end of the year is a great way to share successful stories and statistics from the season while making a request for individual donations. Plan to make your appeal during the giving season (or at another significant time for your organization) and coordinate your donation ask across traditional and digital communications platforms to reach the largest audience.

Friends of the Market Based on the subscription model of public radio stations, Friends of the Market programs allow market shoppers to support farmers markets through a monthly or annual membership fee.

Grants

The Healthy Food Access Portal maintains a comprehensive list of current funding opportunities; be sure to look to local as well as national and regional foundations to ensure a broad base of grant support.

Federal grants—such as the long-running Farmers Market Promotion Program—have been instrumental in expanding SNAP programs across the country. Similarly, city, county, and state Departments of Public Health or Agriculture are well-equipped to fund market and SNAP operations, which can often connect to pre-existing health and greening initiatives.

Sponsorships Sponsorships can be a significant source of funding for SNAP EBT programs and a way to establish important relationships with both local business and national corporations alike. Farmers market customers are a valuable demographic and many organizations are eager to promote their brand to this audience. Develop a sponsorship package to offer several tiers of opportunities to potential sponsors, such as branded merchandise, logo placement on market materials, or social media mentions and promotions.

Fundraising Events

Crowdfunding

New Grant Opportunity and WIC Training Reminder

WellCare Health Connections Microgrant Opportunity:
  • Must be non-profit organization
  • Grants awarded for either $500, $1000 or $1500
  • Grants should address at least one of the key areas:Transportation, Caregiving, or Dental issues
  • Grant is open now and due April 4th
  • Funds will be received in May
  • Grant is posted here: www.thecommunitycommitment.org

Download the descriptive document HERE!

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Don't forget to renew farmer WIC certification on the 18th!

FM Sign-Up Event Flyer-Macon_GA

USDA Grant Opportunity for Veteran Farmers!

USDA has announced the availability of $9.1 million grant funding for the 2501 program to provide outreach and assistance for socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. This program, more commonly known as 2501, provides grants to colleges and universities and community based organizations to provide outreach and assistance to socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers to overcome the unique challenges they face in owning and operating successful farms and ranches.

Applications will be due by April 13, and awards will be made before the end of Fiscal Year 2015 that ends in September.

Learn more here:

http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/fy15-2501-rfa/

Empty Bowls Banquet

The idea of Empty Bowls banquets is to increase hunger awareness in the local community. They feature a simple meal of bread and soup served in ceramic bowls, handmade by local artists. Each person attending will take home a bowl as a reminder of all those around the world whose bowls are empty. Banquets can include live music, documentary showings, or feature speakers that discuss hunger and food accessibility issues in the community.

Ticket prices are usually set around $10, with all proceeds benefiting the market.

Peachtree Road FM & Meals on Wheels Atlanta Collaborate

Meals On Wheels Atlanta and the Peachtree Road Farmers Market are partnering to provide the freshest locally grown vegetables to senior clients of Meals On Wheels Atlanta. At the market on Saturday mornings, Meals On Wheels Atlanta purchases - at a discounted rate - vegetables left at the end of the market to deliver to their senior clients.

Accepting WIC at Farmers Markets

Updates:

  • The Department of Public Health’s WIC Department holds an annual training day for vendors to be certified to accept WIC
    • Currently, in order to accept WIC, each vendor at the market must attend the training to get certified to accept WIC
  • The 2015 training day will be held in March in Macon, GA
    • There is a possibility that there will be a second training in March in Atlanta
  • I have been in contact with the WIC Department to encourage them to allow market managers to attend the annual training (instead of each individual vendor), so that WIC could be accepted centrally at the market information booth, as the process is for SNAP
    • We were most recently told that the Department of Public Health feels “more optimistic about this possibility, however unable to approve it yet.”