WASHINGTON, May 5, 2015 – Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon today announced the availability of up to $3.3 million in competitive funding to support the ability of farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a form of payment. These awards will help expand SNAP participants' access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods found at farmers markets, while supporting our nation's farmers and producers.
"We have seen an unprecedented growth in the number of farmers markets accepting SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards in the past six years," said Concannon. "These awards support the markets that may need administrative help in implementing and managing EBT service and informing customers that they can use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets."
The Under Secretary also announced that there are now more than 6,200 farmers markets and direct marketing farmers authorized to accept SNAP nationwide – an eightfold increase since the beginning of this administration. In fiscal year 2014, approximately $18.7 million in SNAP benefits were used at farmers markets, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2013. Increasing the number of SNAP authorized farmers markets is part of USDA's ongoing mission to support recipients in making healthy food choices.
The Farmers Market SNAP Support Grants will range from $15,000 to $250,000 and must be designed to increase SNAP client accessibility and participation at farmers markets, and support the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP EBT services at farmers markets. Eligible applicants include farmers market organizations and associations, non--profit entities, state, local and tribal nations and other organizations engaged in farmers market management.
The Request for Applications will be published today. Applications are due June 18, 2015. Grant funds will be awarded in September. For further information about the grant application, visit www.grants.gov.
Supporting farmers markets and expanding access to healthy, local food is a key element of USDA's Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative which coordinates the Department's effort on local and regional food systems. Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of rural economic development.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service administers 15 nutrition assistance programs. In addition to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, these programs include the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.