BY: HILLARY GROVE, Force for Health Advocate
Huntingdon County is known as a family-friendly, quaint little community that has historical significance and is a place to call home for many. Not only does it have local places to eat, great hiking areas and places for outdoor adventure but also it has its own farmers’ markets. Huntingdon County has the typical chain grocery stores like Giant, Walmart, Weis, etc. but the local farmers’ markets offer a healthier option. Through the farmers’ markets, people of Huntingdon not only have the opportunity to purchase local produce, but also have the ability to support local farmers and vendors while becoming healthier for themselves and their community.
The Huntingdon County farmers’ markets are located in both Huntingdon and Mount Union during the growing season. Huntingdon’s farmers’ market takes place May through October on Thursdays from noon – 5 p.m. at the Portstown Park pavilion. The Mount Union farmers’ market takes place June through September on Fridays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. by True Value Hardware (135 E. Shirley Street). The advantage that comes from having the farmers’ markets spread out over several months is the variety of produce that can be bought at different times of the season.
The Huntingdon County local food association that organizes the markets not only cares about the people that live locally by making fresh fruits and vegetables available but also has also found a way to make them more affordable. There are low-income payment options available. These include the EBT or SNAP vouchers that are accepted by all vendors for everything except hot prepared foods, alcohol, and non-edibles, which is a government regulation. Bonus Bucks, another low-income payment option, offers one dollar of bonus bucks to the customer per every $2 SNAP benefits used, which encourages shoppers to do more grocery shopping at the markets. Bonus Bucks can be used to purchase anything except alcohol. This option is good all season and is mostly used at the end of SNAP benefits periods and can be used at either market listed above. The third cost effective option for low-income shoppers is the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers that can be received through WIC offices and senior centers for fresh produce purchases. There is also a five percent discount for veterans with an ID card. The farmers’ markets of Huntingdon care about their community and want to provide people with healthy, affordable options.
People who receive low-income benefits may also receive From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Vegetable Encyclopedia that is a group project developed by a Leadership Huntingdon County group. This book features 36 types of local produce. It includes information on how to select, store, and prepare produce, as well as nutrition facts and recipes for produce that is made available at the farmers’ markets. The book is free to SNAP and FMNP customers while others may purchase it at the markets. From Asparagus to Zucchini is a way to continue making local people healthier while supporting nearby vendors and providing affordable options. Huntingdon farmers’ markets are a true Force for Health.
The Huntingdon County local food association that organizes the markets not only cares about the people that live locally by making fresh fruits and vegetables available but also has also found a way to make them more affordable.