Farmers Market Anna’s Fund Changes
By Sandra Thompson
The Anna LaViolette Fund is changing, but the good news is it’s going to continue in the spirit of market volunteer Anna LaViolette. Winchester and Woburn residents can receive $10 in tokens to use for market food.
The fund was created in 2019 to honor the memory of LaViolette. “Although with us for only two short years, this 85-year-old volunteer rarely missed a Saturday at the market manager’s tent” says Winchester Farmers Market founder Fred Yen. “She embodied the spirit of what the market aspires to be: always welcoming, inquisitive, vibrant, and socially conscious. She was a strong believer in our mission of making healthy, fresh food available to everyone.
“Our intention was to provide the Market’s SNAP customers with matching funds to provide greater access to fresh quality produce,” Yen adds. “As we grew the program, we were initially able to maintain the pace of demand, even in the wake of the pandemic. However, beginning in 2022, news of our matching fund had spread, bringing busloads of people from as far away as Andover and Waltham to take advantage of our SNAP match.”
According to Yen, adjustments were made to the program—reducing the amount of matching funds from $15 to $10 per visit. After speaking with the directors of the adult daycare centers who were sending the buses, it became evident that without making significant changes to Anna’s Fund, there would be no way to financially sustain it.
The committee overseeing Anna’s Fund made the difficult decision to pause distribution of the fund for several weeks this summer in order to research sustainable solutions. “After learning a great deal from other markets and reviewing our plans with the MA Department of Transitional Assistance, the Committee made the following changes,” Yen says.
Anna’s Fund will no longer be linked to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. Rather than relying on the SNAP process to determine eligibility, anyone who asks for food assistance will receive $10 in tokens each week from our farmers market community.
Anna’s Fund beneficiaries will be limited to those who live in Winchester and Woburn. All they need to do is provide a photo ID.
Going forward, the benefit amount will be re-assessed and a decision made as to whether the Fund can be offered to residents of other neighboring towns.
“We will continue to process SNAP and HIP (Healthy Incentives Program) benefits and to welcome everyone who shops at our Market,” Yen emphasizes. “Our commitment is to serve those facing food insecurity in our communities by providing greater access to healthy, locally grown, fresh produce.”
Those who wish to donate can go to the Farmers Market website, www.winchesterfarmersmarket.org, and click on Anna’s Fund.