New Bedford – – For the remainder of 2023, Coastal Foodshed will be giving away free bags of locally grown and produced food at the Buttonwood Park Farmers’ Market and at Mobile Farm Stand locations on a first-come, first-serve basis. With no additional requirements to receive a bag of food, Coastal Foodshed will rotate the giveaways across markets on a weekly basis to ensure more customers are reached. Customers can attend one weekly market and receive a bag of food, which will include a selection of MA & RI locally-grown products that are featured each week. Coastal Foodshed provides the location and other details of each weekly giveaway through their online newsletter, which anyone can subscribe to at

“For example, a bag might contain some ground beef raised in Plymouth, eggs from Dartmouth, dairy from Westport, or even maple syrup from Hadley,” says Stephanie Perks, Executive Director. “We are excited to both support our local farmers and provide nutrient-dense food to our community.”

In giving away free bags of local meats, dairy, eggs, and other locally grown products, it is Coastal Foodshed’s goal to attract more customers to the farmers market and mobile farm stands over the next year to promote and sell more local foods, while also teaching more SNAP customers about the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP). 

“HIP is such an important program – especially for any household experiencing food insecurity,” says Perks. Through the HIP program, when SNAP users purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables they are able to earn an additional $40, $60, or $80 in monthly SNAP benefits (dependent upon household size). As the only year-round HIP-approved vendor in New Bedford, Coastal Foodshed plays an important role in connecting SNAP households with these extra benefits. 

As a second component of this project, Coastal Foodshed is also sourcing local fruits, vegetables, and foods from farmers to then distribute through PACE’s newly opened Community Food Center, which is open Monday-Friday from 10am-2pm and reaches thousands of Southcoast residents in need of emergency food relief. “We are so excited to be able to offer our clients fresh and local fruits and vegetables while they are experiencing food insecurity,” says Pam Kuechler, Executive Director of PACE. “This has been such a great opportunity to both support local farms and provide residents in need with fresh and nutritious local foods.”

Coastal Foodshed is able to fund this project through a Local Food Assistance Program (LFPA) grant awarded by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR). The overarching goal of this program is to support local farmers, particularly those that identify as socially-disadvantaged farmers. Coastal Foodshed is committed to working with as many local farmers as possible, from a variety of diverse backgrounds. 

The LFPA program is part of the “Build Back Better” initiative, authorized by the American Rescue Plan. MDAR received $7.5 million from USDA for the LFPA program and awarded approximately $7.2 million in projects through a competitive proposal process. Coastal Foodshed was awarded just over $690,000 through this grant – with $430,000 being used to directly purchase food from local farmers.

Coastal Foodshed is a nonprofit farmer food hub with a mission to strengthen the local food economy by making it easier for growers to sell, and consumers to buy healthy, affordable, local foods. Coastal Foodshed works to increase public awareness and knowledge of health, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture, and to improve access. 

To learn more about Coastal Foodshed and all of the different ways you can shop local, you can visit their website at, or find them on social media at @coastalfoodshed.

“The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world.” – Michael Pollan