The 21st Show

Talking Food, Farming And SNAP At The Champaign Farmers’ Market


Vendors of the Sola Gratia Farm interact with buyers at the Champaign Farmers Market on Sept. 25. Vishesh Anand/Illinois Public Media

On the 21st: We visited the Champaign Farmers' market and talked to vendors who shared their ideas about what it means to eat local here in Central Illinois. Plus, we discuss how the market is working to make produce available to people of all income levels through the SNAP program. And, our Farm Bill is set to expire Sept. 30. What might that mean for the programs it covers?

What does fresh, local produce look like here in Champaign? 

We started by asking Sarah Simeziane. She's the Food Access Manager for The Land Connection, the organization behind the Champaign Farmers' Market. A big part of The Land Connection’s mission is to include local growers and providers from Illinois at the market. 

David Wickboldt is one of those providers. He’s the owner of Havilah Gardens, a 3.5 acre micro farm in Bellflower, Illinois about 30 minutes northwest of Champaign.

We also spoke with Traci Barkley. Traci is the Director of Sola Gratia Farm and CSA in Urbana.

And, Nicole Musumeci was with us. She's the Founder and Director of the non-profit organization Prosperity Gardens based here in Champaign.

Plus --

In some cases healthy, local or sustainable food has a reputation for breaking the bank. To combat this idea, the Champaign Farmers’ Market offers many ways for customers to maximize their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) benefits.  

Sarah Simeziane from The Land Connection told us more about the market’s incentives and matching programs for SNAP customers.

Eric Zarnesky also spoke with us. He is the Market Assistant for The Land Connection. Eric, a former SNAP recipient, shared his personal experience of being on the program.

Jim Hires, the President & CEO of the Eastern Illinois Food Bank, told us more about what food insecurity looks in the area.

We also heard from Caitlin Kownacki. She's an Extension Educator from the SNAP-Ed program at the University of Illinois Extension.

And --

After talking about local food, we also discussed the Farm Bill, a bill which many have said should be called the "Food Bill" instead.

That’s because 80 percent of the bill actually has to do with food. To be more specific, SNAP benefits, which are better known as food stamps. The Farm Bill is typically renewed every 5 years but it’s set to expire Sept. 30. 

For the latest on the Farm Bill and what will happen if it expires, we spoke with Madelyn Beck. Madelyn is a reporter for Harvest Public Media as well as the Illinois Newsroom.

Jonathan Coppess also joined us. He is from the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. He is also the Director of the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program at U of I.

Chris Hausman spoke to us about how the bill will affect small farmers, he is a corn and soybean farmer from Pesotum, Illinois.

Story source: WILL