A new program called MarinersMatch, created by the partnership between New Orleans-based non-profit MarketUmbrella and Chef Michel Nischan’s Wholesome Wave initiative, has been designed to help Gulf fishing families who have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The spill, which released over 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from April 20th through the final sealing-off on September 19th, has had an enormous economic impact upon the fishermen who have long made their living from the Gulf waters. While some positive steps have been made, much of the commercial fishing, crabbing, shrimp and oyster community remains without a steady source of income.
MarinersMatch has created a Double Value Coupon Program, which allows recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Electronic Benefit Transfer (SNAP EBT) or food stamps to receive double benefits when shopping at any of 160 participating farmers markets in 20 states around the country. Also, the presentation of a valid fishing license and a photo ID will allow the bearer to receive $40 worth of farmers market tokens for each purchase of food from local farmers along the New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coasts.
Additionally, MarinersMatch is partnering with local cultural institutions like the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium and Insectarium, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, the National World War II Museum, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and others to provide passes and special offers to fishermen and their families.
Mississippi’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce, Lester Spell, wrote in a press release, “The timely assistance and support to the local fishermen and their families provided by these organizations is greatly appreciated. By allowing fishing families affected by this disaster to access Mississippi farmers’ markets for fresh, local fruits and vegetables in this time of need will be most helpful towards their recovery.”