State and Federal Support Opportunities
USDA FNS Support
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has provided multiple rounds of funding to expand the availability of wireless Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) electronic benefit transfer (EBT) equipment in farmers markets. In Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12), FNS provided $4 million to SNAP State agencies to expand the availability of SNAP EBT equipment in farmers markets not currently participating in SNAP, by providing such equipment and services to eligible markets and direct marketing farmers. States with funds remaining are continuing to offer free SNAP EBT equipment to newly authorized markets and direct marketing farmers (those who became SNAP-authorized on or after November 18, 2011). Contact your State’s SNAP agency or farmers market association to learn more about this opportunity.
The following year (FY13), FNS awarded $4 million to the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP), who were tasked with identifying and recruiting eligible farmers markets and direct marketing farmers to become SNAP-authorized, assisting them through that process, and providing them with equipment. To fulfill these tasks, NAFMNP created the MarketLink system. MarketLink offers smart device technology, used with a mobile application (app) called MobileMarket+.
In FY14, the USDA FNS awarded the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) a contract to assist in improving and expanding SNAP at farmers markets nationwide. To fulfill one of the tasks included in the contract, FMC provided $1.5 million in free SNAP EBT equipment and services to farmers markets and direct marketing farmers through the Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program. Please note the 2017 application closed on November 21, and USDA FNS anticipates reopening the program in 2018 at a date to be determined. Farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers interested in obtaining equipment through this Program once it reopens in 2018 should email FarmersMarket@fns.usda.gov to be placed onto a waitlist.
On May 5, 2015, the USDA FNS announced the availability of grants to enable more farmers markets to serve low-income families. The Farmers Market SNAP Support Grants ranged from $15,000 to $250,000 and were designed to increase SNAP client accessibility and participation at farmers markets, and supported the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP EBT services at farmers markets. Eligible applicants included farmers market organizations and associations, non–profit entities, state, local and tribal nations and other organizations engaged in farmers market management.
Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP)
This program, administered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) since 2006, offers grants up to $100,000. A significant proportion of grantees have used FMPP funds to implement, expand, or promote SNAP EBT at farmers markets in order to meet the program goal of increasing domestic consumption of, and access to, locally and regionally produced agricultural products. Learn more about FMPP eligibility, upcoming funding opportunities and application development resources at www.ams.usda.gov/fmpp.
Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program (FINI)
The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives (FINI) Program provides grants on a competitive basis to projects that help low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through cash incentives that increase their purchasing power at locations like farmers markets. Increasing low-income communities’ abilities to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables not only helps to improve the health of families, but also expands economic opportunities for farmers. You can read more about this program at https://farmersmarketcoalition.org/advocacy/fini/, or learn more about the outcomes of the first year of FINI funded programs at farmers market in FMC’s report: Year One of the USDA FINI Program: Incentivizing the Purchase of Fruits and Vegetables Among SNAP Customers at the Farmers Market.
Additionally, some states have allocated their own resources to help markets gain access to SNAP EBT equipment, cover service and transaction fees, and provide outreach. To see if your state is offering support for SNAP EBT at markets, take a look at FMC’s State by State Resource List. If you have updates to add to this list, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.