By Alex Newman, Patch Staff

MEDFORD, MA — The Medford Farmers Market adopted new safety procedures and food access programs this year, allowing families to more than double their purchasing power. Organizers of the open-air market, located on the banks of the Mystic River, say they know food insecurity is caused by unequal access to necessities such as groceries, rather than scarcity of food.

“Our hope is to build a healthy and happy community by enabling greater access to fresh food and creating a space where people feel safe and welcome. Plus—there’s ice cream!” Board President Heather Meeker Green said.

Residents seeking a Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) certified vendor can shop at Rice’s Roots, a new produce farmer at the market. In addition to accessing HIP benefits, shoppers can double their purchasing power by utilizing the market’s SNAP match. Eligible families may even be able to quadruple spending dollars. For example, a family spending $30 SNAP dollars will earn the market’s $30 match. Additionally, a SNAP/HIP enrolled family of four can use their $60 earned HIP benefits at Rice’s Roots.

“We’re seeing a huge rise in SNAP match transactions, likely because of COVID-19 and its effect on employment and food security. This year we are on pace to exhaust our SNAP match budget before season end,” Mike Quinn, board treasurer and outgoing board president, said in a statement. “These programs (SNAP match & HIP) are a critical part of a healthy Medford, always, but especially now.”

The market is actively seeking donations to continue the matching program. You can show your support by donating through Venmo or Paypal or in person at the market.

Considered an essential business, a June opening date allowed market organizers to adjust operations based on the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 guidelines and incorporate feedback from earlier markets. Shoppers must wear masks, wash hands before entering and follow a one-way entry and exit plan. Vendors are spaced a minimum of six feet apart. Market management and staff ensure that rules are followed.

The market is open Thursdays at Condon Shell Park on Mystic Valley Parkway from 4-7 p.m. Parking is available in the shell parking lot, as well as along Winthrop Street by the community garden and the baseball fields.

2020 vendors include:

Doris’ Peruvian PastriesBread ObsessionBrigham FarmDeano’s PastaNeighbor’s AcrePeg’s PreservesRice’s Roots FarmBeads by BeardsleeVenier Forge,Bart’s Ice Cream,Samira’s Homemade, Mud and Lather, Deershorn Farm, Woodworking by Jess.

Several past vendors are not able to participate this year but would still benefit from support are: Ackermann Maple FarmGarden & RoadsHenna InspiredMelly’s CookiesQ’s NutsScott Brothers MeatSimple Fare, and Source Bakery.

To learn more about SNAP and HIP eligibility visit: