Year One of the FINI Program: Success at the Market

By Alex Canepa, FMC Education and Research Director | alex@farmersmarketcoalition.org

The Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program achieved striking success in its first year. While farmers market SNAP incentive programs—which allow recipients of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) to double their benefits at participating markets —have existed for over a decade, the strategy gained prominence in 2014 when a bipartisan group in Congress created the FINI program to serve a dual-mandate: Provide healthy produce to hungry families while providing revenue directly to American farmers.

In 2015, FINI funded farmers markets distributed $3 million in nutrition incentives and $5 million in SNAP benefits at farmers markets in both rural and urban communities. These benefits funded the purchase of tens of millions of additional servings of fruits and vegetables. Early research indicates that participants are consuming greater quantities of a wider range of vegetables and fruit and in so doing improving their diets. FINI’s impact was remarkable given the infrastructure and logistics required to offer farmers market SNAP incentives on a national level. In 2015 incentives were offered to SNAP shoppers at almost one in eight farmers markets in the United States. These markets successfully processed 200,000 SNAP transactions.

At a time of low farm prices and intense pressure from cheap imports, these transactions represent a real source of income for at least 4,000 farmers in 27 states. According the to the Ecology Center,  “73.9% [of farmers participating in Market Match] report making more money, and 82.6% report having more customers” and 38.6% report “increasing the scope of their operations by planting more acres, buying equipment, building greenhouses or hoop houses, or hiring more workers.”

FMC is eager to see the FINI program grow at farmers markets and continue to serve SNAP families, farmers, and rural communities in 2017 and beyond. 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.