EDMONTON — Ken Childers approached the Metcalfe County Fiscal Court on Tuesday, asking the government entity to become a community partner of the Metcalfe County Farmers Market.
Childers is chairman of the Metcalfe County Farmers Market’s Board of Directors. He approached the fiscal court in June about becoming a community partner, explaining that the farmers market participates in several state programs that help get fresh fruits and vegetables into the homes of elderly residents and underprivileged children.
Some of those programs are Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP and Kentucky Double Dollars Program.
The Kentucky Double Dollars Program allows the farmers market to double the value of the vouchers.
Farmers market customers use vouchers issued through these programs to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. Funds from the community partner program, which was started in 2018, go to support the Kentucky Double Dollars Program.
The farmers market does receive a small grant to help offset the expense of participating in the Kentucky Double Dollars Program, but Childers said it’s not enough. Each community partner contributes $1,000 toward the program. The farmers market had a goal of reaching $4,000 to help fund the program.
This year, Edmonton State Bank, the City of Edmonton, the Metcalfe County School System and T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow have agreed to become community partners.
The fiscal court voted 3-2 in June to table action on becoming a community partner with the farmers market.
Childers returned on Tuesday bringing with him Rose Saltsman, manager of the farmers' market, to introduce to the fiscal court. He also brought with him some statistics to share with the fiscal court.
“As of Friday we had 198 customers to walk through our market from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” he said. “We had 14 vendors on site on Monday. The market is moving. It's booming. It's going.”
He continued that 75 percent of the farmers' market customers last week came with “a handful of vouchers to redeem.”
“We are happy to do that for them as long as we can keep everything going,” Childers said. “Those 198 customers stimulate the local economy. They are not just coming to see us. When those folks are in town, they are buying gas and buying other groceries. The farmers market is helping to stimulate the economy in the community and we would certainly hope the fiscal court would see fit to help us continue this program and help keep these vouchers funded through this year.”
He also told the fiscal court that if it came on board as a community partner, the farmers market will have reached its fundraising goal for the year.
“That's all we lack,” he said.
The $4,000 would fund the program through October. Childers pointed out the Metcalfe County School System is doing its own vouchers through its Family Resource and Youth Service Centers this year.
“They created a $1,000 worth of vouchers and are handing them out through to the folks through their resource department,” Childers said. “This adds an additional $1,000 worth of food out to those people that we haven't had in the past. That's bringing another group of customers to the market.”
The farmers market is not having to match the vouchers that are being issued by the school system.
“Our vendors are working overtime to bring in produce and growing it. The market was full Friday and looked good,” he said.
Childers added that Lynn Blankenship, Metcalfe County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, did a food drive at the farmers market on Friday.
“There was probably 10 or 12 boxes of food that our vendors brought in, staple food, that she collected and was taking to the needy. The market is doing good things all the way around. In order for it to be very successful and help those people it needs to be a complete community project,” he said.
Metcalfe County Judge-Executive Harold Stilts said he noticed the farmers market was selling chicken and beef and wanted to know if the meat came from local producers. Childers told him that it did and that it was processed at approved facilities.
Magistrate Ronnie Miller said he knew money was tight for the county.
“We've had some surprises on stuff that weren't in our original budget, but I just feel like $1,000 is not that much,” Miller said.
He then made a motion for the fiscal court to contribute $1,000 to the farmers market and become a community partner.
The fiscal court initially voted 2-2, but Stilts broke the tie by voting in favor of making the contribution.
“I vote for it. I did have a lot of questions and still have some questions,” Stilts said.
Those questions involve how many vouchers the farmers market has accepted.
Childers told the judge-executive that the farmers market has that information and said the city of Edmonton has asked that the farmers market provide a breakdown and that they would be happy to provide the fiscal court with the same information so the fiscal court will know where the money is going.
“That's what we're asking for. If we spend $1,000 for vouchers, we want to know that the $1,000 (going for that),” Stilts said.
Childers explained Saltsman has to submit that information to the state.
As for the surprises in the fiscal court's budget Miller referenced earlier in the meeting, Stilts one of those was an increase in the contribution the fiscal court has to make toward the state retirement system.
Childers said he understands and said: “Things are tough all over, guys. We do appreciate you all's help. I know our vendors and your all's constituents will appreciate it as well.”
He added that the fiscal court will be listed as a sponsor of the program on a banner with the names of the other community partners.
After the fiscal court meeting, Magistrate Kenny Scott explained he voted against the fiscal court making the $1,000 contribution to become a community partner of the farmers market.
“The budget is tight right now and I just feel like we didn't need to do it right now. I have nothing against it. I just felt like the budget is tight and we needed to wait,” Scott said.
Magistrate Donnie Smith also voted against becoming a community partner of the farmers market.
He explained he voted the way he did “because of different opinions.”