Bumper Crop: An employee benefit pays local dividends to healthy food producers – Lewiston Sun Journal

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Program provides nutritional benefits to workers and supports local economies.
NORWAY — The Federation of Maine Farmers’ Markets is looking for business partners in the Oxford Hills area to promote healthy eating while supporting community farms.
The program, called Bumper Crop, provides employers with gift certificates to distribute to their workforce as an employee benefit. The certificates are to be used at community farmers’ markets to purchase healthy, locally grown foods. Producers redeem the certificates for payment through the federation, which tracks employee participation and collects the funds from the business.
The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets is looking for employers in Oxford Hills to participate in ‘Bumper Crop,’ an employee benefit program that promotes nutritional food provided by local farmers Supplied photo
Companies pay the federation monthly for their employees’ redeemed vouchers; they bear no cost for unused gift certificates.
The program launched in 2019 as a pilot project with the city of Bangor and a grant from its health insurance provider. In 2020, three businesses took part, with 300 employees incentivized to shop at local markets.
Last year, participation in Bumper Crop was extended to 23 employers and 36 farmers’ markets across the state. In the Oxford Hills region employees of MaineHealth, Norway Savings Bank and Lee Auto group were able to use their gift certificates at the Alan Day Community Farmers’ Market at 26 Whitman St. in Norway and the Waterford Farmers’ Market on the Waterford Flat village common on Routes 35/37.
Alan Day Community Garden at 26 Whitman St. in Norway participated in the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets’ Bumper Crop program last yer. The program connects Maine consumers to local farmers’ markets and promotes healthy eating. Submitted photo
Alan Day Community Garden also distributed the $5 vouchers to shoppers at its Friday farmers’ market to increase their customers’ options for healthy food. Rocky Crockett, executive director for the garden, said the program worked well, benefiting producers as well as shoppers.
“We added (Bumper Crop) midseason last year,” Hannah Court, owner of Wandering Route Farm in Waterford and market manager for the Waterford Farmers’ Market, said. Even late, “we had decent success with it. We are still assessing our plans for this spring but I expect we will continue with it.”
Employees at Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway received Bumper Crop gift certificates through MaineHealth’s participation in the program, according to Jennifer Fogg, the hospital’s community relations and development specialist.
“Stephens is proud to support our local farmers while promoting healthy eating for our team members,” Fogg wrote in an email. “Team members earn vouchers by demonstrating our organizational values (patient centered, respect, integrity, excellence, ownership, or innovation) or participating in wellness initiatives offered throughout the spring and summer.
“Our employees were able to use their vouchers at any participating market in Maine,” she wrote.
Business owners and managers who wish to learn more about Bumper Crop may visit the federation’s  website at mainefarmersmarkets.org/bumpercrop/, or contact federation Executive Director Jimmy DeBiasi at 207-370-1524 or [email protected].
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