State-level and Local Partnerships
Farmers markets partner with a wide range of groups, including city, State, and Federal government agencies; “buy local” campaign organizers; food pantries; hospitals and clinics; faith-based organizations; libraries, and senior centers. These partners and others can help with SNAP EBT outreach in many ways—they can hand out flyers about the market SNAP EBT program, host cooking demonstrations and nutrition education events at the market, and encourage their clients to attend the farmers market. Partners can promote SNAP at farmers markets at health fairs, school events, and community festivals to reach targeted audiences. They can provide signage and flyers about farmers markets’ SNAP participation to local SNAP and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices, senior centers, hospitals, clinics, food pantries, schools, churches, and community centers to effectively notify the public that SNAP is available at the farmers market. Press releases and local calendar listings are also effective (and usually free) marketing tools. Special events and outreach initiatives produced with partner support can draw media and other community attention.
Partnering with organizations who have an interest in your mission is imperative to expanding outreach efforts and advocating for your needs as a market. Make sure to engage community stakeholders as well, who can help guide the creation of your SNAP program and provide general market support. As an example of a statewide partnership in action, the Washington State Farmers Market Associations’ Food Access Partnership includes an impressive array of organizations, agencies, and companies.
Washington State’s Regional Leads Program Offers Local-Level Solutions with a Network of Support
In 2012, Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA) received a Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant to facilitate and formalize collaboration between a long-standing informal network of partners in the state. From this, the WSFMA piloted the Regional Lead Program, which allowed partners to build and strengthen networks within their own strategically-defined region. Each of the regions was headed by one individual, who worked within their region to instate a workplan for developing locally-specific materials and programming. The collaborative as a whole established standards for data collection and management, freed up resources for programming—such as nutrition education and cooking lessons—at market, and broadened outreach and partnership networks to government agencies, local health departments, WIC and other service agencies, smaller farmers market alliances within the state, and a wide range of community organizations and nonprofits. Through the Regional Lead Program, WSFMA was able to better asses and affect policy and food access at the state level.
Building a statewide network to increase SNAP sales at farmers markets
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) and Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) have launched Connect2Direct, a series of initiatives to increase SNAP sales in North Carolina by over 100%. Connect2Direct focuses on developing capacity and knowledge for markets and vendors, creating a ripple effect that boosts fresh food access across the state. The collaborative has started a number of projects surrounding EBT access at farmers markets including the creation of marketing plans for local markets, the mounting of new outreach campaigns, widespread EBT technical assistance, implementation of a SNAP incentive program, at-market family programming, and the initiation of a statewide network to support, guide, and grow sustainable local food economies. Connect2Direct will culminate in a farmers market and direct sales conference, which will serve as a forum for farmers markets and other direct sales vendors to receive comprehensive trainings while sharing lessons learned and best practices.
Using a regional network to conduct joint marketing and promotion
In 2011, four markets in neighboring Virginia counties came together to form The Farmers Market.co. This regional network of markets built a standardized EBT token system while coordinating marketing, data collection, and reporting. Significantly, outreach occurs jointly for all markets by one floating staff person, increasing efficiency and promotional opportunities for each. Leveraging a common marketing strategy has spurred SNAP sales while increasing the capacity of the markets to focus on other needs and introduce innovative programming.
Additional Resources with partnership ideas:
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Attracting SNAP Customers to Your Farmers Market
- USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): Putting Healthy Food Within Reach, A State Outreach Toolkit
- USDA’s Agricultural Market Service and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Resource Conservation and Development Council’s Connecting Local Farmers with Farmers Market Nutrition Program Participants
Click here to continue reading and find contacts in the SNAP EBT State by State Resource List.