FMC and CFSC Embark on Farmers Market SNAP Research Project
In September, the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) joined forces with the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC) to start work on the Farmers Market SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Research Project. This project was funded by the Convergence Partnership. The purpose of the research is to develop policy and program implementation recommendations for expanding SNAP usage in farmers markets nationwide.
In early October, Stacy Miller, FMC Executive Director, and Andy Fisher, CFSC Executive Director convened a diverse advisory group of farmers market and SNAP program experts to review the grant goals and provide direction from many different lens (market management, SNAP administration, public health and food security to name a few) . The group united around one looming question: How can farmers markets help improve food access and contribute to the financial sustainability of farmers and market organizations? What barriers must be addressed to support farmers markets seeking to serve low-income communities where health disparities are most prevalent?
As FMC and CFSC’s preliminary survey of existing SNAP data revealed, 34% of SNAP permits are held by convenience stores, and in 2009, only $4.3 million of nearly $50 billion SNAP dollars were redeemed at farmers markets. While the amount of SNAP dollars redeemed at farmers markets increased 104% between 2008 and 2009, the dollar figure still represents less than .009% of all SNAP redemptions last year. This is largely due to the fact that fewer than 20% of farmers markets accept SNAP dollars, and many markets struggle to implement EBT technology and engage in sufficient outreach and promotion of its availability. By 2012, FMC hopes to see 50% of all farmers markets accepting SNAP, contributing to the sustainability of markets and making fresh, local, healthy foods available to more people.
The report will discuss the history of SNAP in farmers markets, highlight specific state level collaborations, provide case studies on successful and challenged implementation models, and summarize the state-by-state Farmers Market SNAP survey results. In addition, the research will identify current policy barriers and make future policy recommendations.
The final report is expected to be complete this summer. It will include a road map for how all farmers market stakeholders can become change advocates at the local, state and federal level so that all citizens, especially the poor, have equal access to fresh local produce grown closest to home, and
farmers are not left on the wrong side of the digital divide.