Using Kickstarter-like crowdfunding service designed for governments, City Holiday Fundraiser seeks to help low-income residents access healthy foods
SOMERVILLE – The City of Somerville’s Mobile Farmers Market program needs your help—and a nifty online crowdfunding campaign makes it easy to give once during the holidays to provide meaningful help to low-income families all year.
Each week a truck carrying affordable fresh fruits and vegetables rolls up to Somerville’s two housing developments and a senior activity center and transforms parking lots into instant farmers markets with low prices that most struggling families can afford—but some still need more support. That’s why the Mobile Market, a program of Shape Up Somerville, offers matching funds for persons with demonstrated need, thereby doubling the purchasing power of low-income residents including those receiving SNAP and WIC support. But growing demand has already depleted the $5,000 in 2013 grant funding for the $10-$20 matching grants—just as federal cuts to food stamps programs are forcing families to make hard choices at the supermarket. By law, City funds cannot be used for the matching funds. So residents are being called on to donate to help fund the program through winter and next summer.
“Residents and families have come to increasingly depend on the market, but with our matching funds depleted, we’re concerned that too many will be walking away without enough produce to get through the week. So we’re really hoping that residents will give this holiday season to help their neighbors provide nutritious foods for their families,” said David Hudson, Director of Shape Up Somerville, which runs the Mobile Market. “This really is local giving. 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.”
Shape Up Somerville has set a modest goal of $3,000 to raise by mid-January, although it’s estimated that a total of $5,000 is needed to keep the market’s matching funds program funded through this winter and summer 2014. So, should the goal be reached, additional donations will be welcome. Donations can be made by visiting http://www.citizinvestor.com/project/somerville-mobile-farmers-market
“The growing popularity of the Mobile Farmers’ Market shows the growing importance that families of all backgrounds place on nutrition partly as a result of the City’s ongoing efforts to promote healthy eating and food equity. But it is also an indicator of real need,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “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. I plan to personally make a donation myself.”
Citzinvestor.com invites municipalities to submit projects, already approved but lacking necessary funding, ranging from building a new playground to creating a memorial or funding small business initiatives. Residents may pledge any amount of money toward meeting the community’s goal. From its mission statement: “Not only can citizens invest in projects from their local governments, but Citizinvestor also gives citizens the opportunity to propose ideas they have to improve their community to their respective local government officials.”
Funds raised through this campaign will help provide assistance in the form of matching funds for residents with a demonstrated need, including those receiving SNAP or WIC benefits. Citizens pledging funds will only pay their portion if 100% of the goal of $3,000 is reached. If the goal is not met by the proposed deadline, the proposed project will receive no funding.