Fresh Food for All: GWL Takes Part in Workshops Across the State for Increased SNAP/EBT at Farmers Markets

In November and December, I had a the pleasure of speaking at a series of workshops across the state aimed at increasing Farmers Markets' participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) and educating market managers how they can benefit from accepting these benefits at their markets.

The workshops were facilitated and hosted by the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), and the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (USDA-FNS) and were a great success, with nearly 40 market managers from all over the state attending to learn about SNAP in Massachusetts and how SNAP benefits, if accepted, represent an enormous potential sales increase for many farmers markets. Currently nearly 700,000 citizens of the Commonwealth are enrolled in SNAP--and research indicates that many more qualify but are not enrolled. Each of these 700,000 individuals receives a monthly benefit for the purchase of food--and currently, much of that revenue is being captured by large supermarkets and smaller convenience stores. Small farmers and other local food vendors--who often struggle to make enough to stay in business year after year--could stand to benefit greatly from their involvement with the SNAP/EBT programs.

GWL's Downtown Lawrence Farmers Market has been accepting SNAP/Food Stamps/EBT for the past three years and has seen a considerable increase in SNAP/Food Stamp sales each year--a 67% increase from 2008-2009 alone! GWL has also been noted for its innovative efforts to reach out to SNAP/Food Stamp beneficiaries and was able to share these outreach strategies and best practices with attendees of the workshops. To view the presentation GWL gave at the workshops, visit DAR's website (scroll down nearly to the bottom of the page and click on the document titled "Utilizing EBT at Farmers Markets" by Groundwork Lawrence under "EBT/SNAP Resources").

Big week in Lawrence

A new decade, a new mayor, and federal dollars to move Union Crossing

On Monday, January 4th, State Representative William Lantigua was inaugurated as Mayor of Lawrence. Mayor Lantigua is the first Latino mayor in the State of Massachusetts. According to the article in the Eagle Tribune, he says he wants to be the best mayor Lawrence ever had. Read the full article here. The staff of Groundwork Lawrence congratulates Representative Lantigua and is looking forward to working with him and his staff.

On Tuesday, US Representative Nikki Tsongas was in Lawrence to announce support for the Union Crossing Project in the amount of $743,500. This federal money will drive the project to a groundbreaking later this spring. Union Crossing will transform the former Southwick Complex into 400,000 sf of renovated and newly built space for family and workforce housing, commercial office, retail, community facilities as well as new public green space. Read the full article from the Tribune here.

Cronin Park Demolition (and Renovation) has begun!

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Quirk Construction moved on site today to begin demolition of Cronin Park's existing structures as part of the park overhaul. The park renovation is being funded by the State Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and Community Development Block Grant Funding administered by the Community Development Department. The construction (and before that the design) is being managed by Groundwork Lawrence. The landscape architect for the project is Steven Cosmos (who also worked on Misserville Park among others).

Please keep up to date with the work on the blog and on the Cronin Park Project Page!

City soliciting input on consolidated plan

Complete the online survey.

The City of Lawrence is in the process of developing a new five-year Consolidated Plan that will establish community goals and guide resource allocations. The Consolidated Plan is a document required by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). The Plan will cover the period 2010-2014. The Consolidated Plan serves as

1. a planning document …which builds on a participatory process
2. a submission for Federal funds;
3. a strategy to be followed in carrying out HUD programs; and
4. a management tool for assessing performance and tracking results.

Read more on our blog post below.

This year's amazing Eco-Art for the Glow Gala

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I want to thank the artists that submitted eco-art for this year's Annual Glow Gala and Fundraiser. All the submitted art was excellent and I know the jury had a hard time selecting the pieces to include for the silent auction. I want to especially thank and congratulate Rebecca Veilleux's students for doing wonderful eco-art projects. While we couldn't include all the pieces, we were impressed by the thoughtfulness, creativity and inspiration they exhibited. Rebecca is a Biology teacher in the Humanities and Leadership High School at Lawrence High and a Board member of GWL. Below are a few quotes from Rebecca and her students about the eco-art projects.

GWUSA Youth Summit in New Orleans

Lawrence Youth participate in Groundwork USA Youth Summit in New Orleans

Support GWL's youth members and programs at the Glow Gala, Dec. 10, 2009

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New Orleans, LA. November 13, 2009 - Two youth from the Groundwork Lawrence Green Team, a year-round environmental stewardship program that offers part-time, paid employment for 10 Lawrence high school students each year, joined an assortment of 80 youth, Groundwork Executive Directors, National Park Service staff, and youth Green Team leaders in New Orleans, Louisiana to tour the City, explore nature, take part in a service project, and to share experiences about their cities as the Groundwork program continues to grow across the country. Download the press release.

City of Lawrence FY11 Consolidated Plan CDBG and HOME Programs

The City of Lawrence, through its Community Development Department, will conduct Public Hearings and a Workshop regarding the development of the Consolidated Plan and the use of approximately $2.5 million in Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME grant funds available on or about July 1, 2010. Download English flyer(pdf).

La Ciudad de Lawrence, por medio de su Departamento de Desarrollo de la Comunidad, realizará Audiciones Públicas y un Taller con respecto al desarrollo del Plan Consolidado y el uso de aproximadamente $2.5 millones de fondos Federales para el Desarrollo de la Comunidad (CDBG) y subsidio HOME disponible alrededor de 1 julio de 2010. Más en español (pdf).

The City is soliciting proposals for Fiscal Year 11 CDBG funding. The December 8, 2009 Public Hearing will review the accomplishments of programs and projects receiving funding in the previous year, solicit ideas and recommendations for priorities in the new Consolidated Plan, and provide information on the CDBG funding for the upcoming year. The CDBG Workshop will explain the application process of for FY2011 CDBG funding. The hearings and workshops are fully accessible and open to all.

Completed applications must be received at the City of Lawrence Community Development Department no later than Monday, February 8, 2010 by 3:00 p.m.

Below is the schedule of 3 meetings related to the RFP process:

  • Public Hearing: Tuesday, December 8, 2009 5:30-8:00 p.m. at the Lawrence Public Library (51 Lawrence Street)
  • CDBG Workshop:Thursday, January 21, 2010, 6-7:30 p.m. at Lawrence Heritage State Park (One Jackson Street)
  • Public Hearing and Presentations by Applicants: Thursday, February 18, 2010, 5-8:00 p.m. at the Lawrence Public Library (51 Lawrence Street)

The City of Lawrence is in the process of developing a new five-year Consolidated Plan that will establish community goals and guide resource allocations. The Consolidated Plan is a document required by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). The Plan will cover the period 2010-2014. The Consolidated Plan serves as

  1. a planning document …which builds on a participatory process
  2. a submission for Federal funds;
  3. a strategy to be followed in carrying out HUD programs; and
  4. a management tool for assessing performance and tracking results.
  5. Complete the online survey.

    Individuals requiring Spanish translation or American Sign interpreters are asked to contact the office at (978) 620-3510 in advance of the meetings. Technical assistance in preparing your proposals will be available upon request.
    For more information contact the Community Development Department at 978.620.3510

LCW and Movement City Fundraiser-Friday wine tasting December 4

Support our friends and partners at Lawrence CommunityWorks!
This Wine Tastes Like What?
A Unique Evening of Wine and Laughs

To benefit Lawrence CommunityWorks and its Movement City Youth Network.

Friday December 4, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. at Jackson Kitchen Designs, Butcher Boy Marketplace.

Tickets are $30 and can be mailed to
Lawrence CommunityWorks
Our House Campus
168 Newbury Street
Lawrence, MA 01841