Posted On: August 9, 2017

The Bismarck Farmers Market

BisMarket Beet Bucks

Jan Stankiewicz
(Click here to view a .pdf version of the story below)

Bismarck’s farmers market filled with fresh fruit and vegetables ready for purchase

Introduction of Market
BisMarket is a farmers market in Bismarck, North Dakota. In its 5th season, the market recently implemented a SNAP incentives program. BisMarket provides access to a variety of locally grown, high-quality, farm-fresh products direct from local producers. This family-friendly market enhances community-building, fosters local business development, and encourages healthy food choices in a green, outdoor space.

In 2013, BisMarket was one of the first farmers markets in North Dakota to accept SNAP benefits. Since then, a SNAP incentive program was in the works, but sustainability and funding were barriers to adoption and implementation. In 2017, BisMarket applied for a grant from Basin Electric Cooperative via their Charitable Giving program, a grant program that BisMarket had applied for previously for other goals and objectives. Basin Electric Cooperative awarded the application to fund the incentives and promotion of the program. Incentive programs are difficult to implement and maintain, as funding sources don’t always allow for incentives.

Partnerships in Farmers Market
In June, 2017, the Beet Bucks program was adopted and implemented. The program is simple for clients and the market; a SNAP client uses an EBT card to purchase SNAP-eligible items from any of the vendors and they receive a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $15 per market per household. The Beet Bucks can be used immediately or saved for a later date. Because adults in North Dakota, on average, do not eat enough fruits and vegetables to maintain health and prevent disease, the Beet Bucks can only be used to purchase fruits and vegetables. The vendors are then reimbursed by BisMarket with the grant funds. The market has created and disseminated reference materials to vendors so all are well-informed of the program.

The North Dakota State University Extension and Great Plains Food Bank have played an integral role in the promotion of the Beet Bucks program at BisMarket. The SNAP-Ed nutrition educator with Burleigh County Extension and the SNAP outreach coordinator with The Great Plains Food Bank are eager to promote the program within their networks, classes, and partnerships.

Overcoming Barriers and Challenges
Sustaining the program is still a concern, as grant funding is not a reliable or long-term source of funds for the incentives. BisMarket is working to build infrastructure that will support programs such as the Beet Bucks program, across North Dakota. BisMarket is still in season, and the community has expressed excitement and enthusiasm for the Beet Bucks program at BisMarket.