USDA Changes Rule on SNAP Promotion at Farmers Markets
Posted On: December 21, 2016
The farmers market community has made strides in the past decade to welcome and provide nutrition incentives to recipients of SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps). One of the greatest barriers that SNAP-eligible markets face is that many SNAP recipients are simply unaware that they can redeem (and in some cases double) their benefits at local farmers markets.
In 2016, many farmers markets participating in both the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) and Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant (FMSSG) programs encountered confusion when they sought to inform area residents that their markets accepted SNAP, due to a prohibition on the use of federal funds for radio, television, and billboard advertising.
When Congress drafted this prohibition, it hoped to discourage corner stores and supermarkets from either encouraging SNAP enrollment or using taxpayer dollars to advertise their business. An unintended consequence of this prohibition, however, was that it curtailed the ability of farmers markets and local SNAP offices to educate existing SNAP clients on where their benefits can be redeemed. After listening to members of the farmers market community, as well as FMC and our partners, last week USDA released a new set of rules that address many of our concerns. The final federal rule concludes:
“The restriction on the use of Federal funds for radio, television, and billboard advertising does not restrict retailers, such as farmers markets, from using these methods to provide information about where SNAP benefits are accepted. Similarly, the Department also believes that the restriction on the use of Federal funds for radio, television, and billboard advertising does not restrict retailers from using these methods to provide factual information about their FNS-approved programs for currently enrolled SNAP households, such as fruits and vegetables incentive programs.”
More information on the rule change can be found here.