The pleasure of eating delicious, wholesome food belongs to everyone. But not everyone has a place at the table. The following programs help make good food available to all of us.
Each year the food pantries in our area distribute nearly 800,000 meals to seniors, adults, and children who need food assistance. To find a food pantry near you, click here.
CSA Bonus Bucks
GardenShare’s “CSA Bonus Bucks” program spreads the benefits of Community Supported Agriculture to people living on a tight budget. The program pays $100 of the cost of a CSA membership for limited-income households. To apply, click here or call (315) 261-8054. Tax-deductible contributions to GardenShare will help sponsor a household.
The SNAP/EBT program (food stamps) brings federal dollars into our community by assisting eligible individuals and families to purchase food, including fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers' markets. For a friendly and confidential conversation about your eligibility, call 1-800-782-0814. Shoppers can use their EBT benefits for purchases at the Canton, Potsdam, and Ogdensburg farmers’ markets in St. Lawrence County.
Farmers' Market Nutrition Program
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program assists limited-income seniors, women, infants, and children by providing checks that are redeemable for fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets. Besides improving nutrition for these participants, the program is an important source of sales for local farmers. In St. Lawrence County, checks for seniors are distributed at senior centers by the Office for the Aging (386-4730). Checks for women, infants, and children are distributed at WIC clinics by the North Country Children’s Clinic (386-8128). FMNP checks are welcome at all the farmers’ markets in St. Lawrence County.
WIC Vegetables & Fruits Check Program
Until recently, participants in the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program could redeem their monthly checks only at food stores and pharmacies. Thanks to a new WIC Vegetables and Fruits program, moms can now use their WIC checks to buy eligible fresh produce at farmers’ markets. Purchases must be made from authorized market vendors. For more information in St. Lawrence County, contact the North Country Children’s Clinic (386-8128).
Senior Bus Program
Seniors at apartment sites in Edwards, Hermon, Russell, and DeKalb Junction can ride a bus to the Canton farmers’ market on the second and fourth Fridays of July, August, and September. For more information about schedules, call the Office for the Aging at 386-4730 or 229-3320.
Senior Food & Friendship Centers
Eight “Food and Friendship Centers” provide well-balanced, low-cost noon meals and home-delivered meals to county residents 60 years and older. For information about these and other services, call the Office for the Aging at 386-4730.
Eat Smart New York!
Trained nutrition educators from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s “Eat Smart New York!” program help families plan affordable and nutritious meals; start a family garden; get the most out of their EBT benefits; and more. Call Kristin Colarusso at the extension office in Canton, 379-9192 ext. 222.
The Canton Church and Community Program (386-3534) takes applications each spring for garden plants and seeds; plan now to apply next year. The Sustainable Living Project (sustainablelivingproject.net) offers workshops on growing and preparing wholesome food. The UShare Project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton grows a garden in Canton and another in Potsdam to raise food for pantries and community dinners; to help, call Jan DeWaters (265-2234) or Maria Corse (379-0196). Community garden plots are available for organic gardeners each summer in Potsdam; call Chelle Lindahl at 347-4223.
Summer Food for Schoolchildren
The Summer Food Service Program helps children 18 or younger get healthy meals when school is out during the summer. Call your school’s office to learn whether summer meals are available in your community.
School Meal Program
The national school meal program makes healthy breakfasts and lunches available to all students daily. Children from low- or moderate-income households qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Simply by applying for the meal program—even if your child never accepts a meal—you can help your school qualify for federal funding to purchase such things as new kitchen equipment or healthier cafeteria options. Children who qualify for free or reduced-price meals are not publicly identified in any way. See your district website or contact your school office to receive an application. For more information click here.