Forsyth Farmers Market & SNAP: Making Good Food Affordable for All
Posted On: October 26, 2016
SNAP tokens used at Forsyth Farmers Market (photo credit: Forsyth Farmers Market)
Since its very start, the Forsyth Farmers Market in Savannah, Georgia has sought to address food access with the inclusion of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formally food stamps), a federally funded food access program for low-income individuals administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Beginning in 2009, the Forsyth Farmers Market was one of the first markets nationwide to offer this program to its patrons. The market recently received a free electronic benefit transfer system (EBT) through the Farmers Market Coalition’s Free SNAP/EBT Equipment Program in order to replace its out of date equipment. This program connects farmers and farmers markets with free EBT equipment for three years and is administered in partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.
Teri Schell, who works with the market and SNAP program, believes the inclusion of SNAP was a conscious and important decision to increase the livelihood of their farmers market, while supporting the food access needs of the community.
“SNAP is a great way to welcome a larger variety of customers to the market. Every Saturday we help make locally grown food more affordable for those who need it most.”
Terri went on to mention that when the market first opened, there were very few options in her community for individuals using SNAP. The market’s ability to accept SNAP provided an outlet for low-income families to purchase quality, affordable food grown by local farmers, thus improving their diet and eating habits.
Since 2009, the Forsyth Farmers Market has run a “Double Dollars” program alongside their EBT program, education programs and canning demos. The program matches a SNAP customers benefits, allowing them to purchase more for their money. They also conduct a cooking demo at a local community center, running a free shuttle bus to and from the market, so shoppers can learn how to properly prepare the fresh food they purchase from vendors. Their main focus is to improve the wellness of the community as well as the livelihood their local farmers.
Schell spoke about the importance of SNAP at the Forsyth Farmers Market:
“The feedback I most often receive is from families. This program has allowed them to buy healthy, local foods that they would not normally be able to afford. The majority of the people I see with SNAP are the working poor and young families. These people really want to be eating healthy, and being able to provide them with the opportunity to do so is so rewarding.”
Is your farm or market interested in FMC’s Free SNAP/EBT Equipment Program? Learn more about the program here and apply today.