BELMONT - Local farmers markets are giving back to the community that supports them this week.

The Belmont Farmers Market and REAP Farmers Market in Olean are participating in Give Back New York, a week-long program from the Farmers’ Market Federation of New York. The program encourages farm markets across the state to collect fresh produce and canned goods from both customers and vendors.

“We wanted to find a way to say thank you to customers who were very supportive of farmers markets and local food throughout the current health crisis,” said Diane Eggert, executive director of the federation. “People seemed to choose local and markets as a safe way to shop and feed their families. The overwhelming support led us to want to find a way to thank people.”

On Thursday, the Belmont market will collect donations that will be given to the Wellspring Ministries Food Pantry, at 5993 County Road 16 in Belfast, which will be at the farm market that day.

“We just thought that it was a good time to do this,” said Debra Wagoner, market manager.

“Even as farmers we need to give back … we accept farm market checks, SNAP and double-ups,” she said.

Double-ups provide the opportunity for customers of the farm market who spend $10 on fruits and vegetables on their SNAP card to get an additional $10 to spend on other items.

The Allegany County Office for the Aging will be there with education, nutrition information and market checks. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be in attendance with information and recipe cards. Master Gardeners will be also be there to answer any questions on gardening needs.

A number of vendors will also attend the Belmont Farm Market, including Hints Red Roof Maple with maple cotton candy and popcorn.

“We urge people to come out Thursday and support this program and the farm market,” Wagoner said. “Should be a fun day for all.”

Saturday, REAP Farmers Market in Lincoln Park Pavilion will be participating as well.

“We are looking forward to participating in Give Back NY,” said Stephanie Beneng, market manager. “Interest in local food this year has been tremendous, and we are grateful for the dedication our customers have shown to our market. Give Back NY is a special opportunity for us to show our appreciation to the community that has supported our farmers.”

Donations will be given to the Olean Food Pantry, at 8 Leo Moss Drive, who will be present at the market.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen our numbers increased by 70%,” said DB Busan, nutrition education and outreach coordinator for the food pantry. “We are so very grateful for the generous support of our community and we feel blessed to be able to help.”

REAP Farmers Market offers produce, honey, meats, eggs, baked goods, potted plants and handcrafts.

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