WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2016 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced more than $500,000 in grants to academic and nonprofit organizations who will work to make farmers markets and farm stands more accessible to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. Farmers markets offer fresh fruits and vegetables to SNAP participants and support local rural economies. Since 2008, the number of SNAP-authorized farmers markets and direct marketing farmers has grown dramatically, to more than 7,000 – over nine times the number that were around at the start of this Administration. In Fiscal Year 2015 alone, SNAP redemptions accounted for over $19 million at farmers markets.
“Farmers markets and direct marketing farmers play a vital role in ensuring that all Americans have access to fresh farm produce that is so important to a healthy diet,” said Kevin Concannon, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumers Services. “They are a key part of our efforts to improve the diet and health of those participating in the nation’s nutrition assistance programs. They also help support local and regional food systems.”
In a recent USDA study, almost 80 percent of farmers market shoppers mentioned access to high-quality fruits and vegetables as the reason for shopping at a farmers market. The grants announced today will support broad SNAP-related activities and costs, including staff training and technical assistance, creating educational materials, and raising awareness among current SNAP participants that their benefits may be used to purchase fresh local foods. The awardees are:
- University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) -- $248,443
The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center will work with five farmers markets in the Oklahoma City area on a social media and mass transit campaign directed towards current SNAP participants in order to increase SNAP redemptions at farmers markets.
- Upper Ocmulgee River RC&D Council, Inc. (Lawrenceville, Georgia) -- $241,571
The Upper Ocmulgee River RC&D Council will train up to 40 farmers markets staffs throughout Georgia on how to best operate the SNAP program and provide solutions to common barriers of SNAP at farmers markets, such as transportation and price.
- Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden (New Bern, North Carolina) -- $42,000
This grant will provide educational training in SNAP policies and procedures which aims to assist about 50 veteran farmers and to increase the effectiveness of veteran farmers’ participation in SNAP.
Today’s grants are the latest step in USDA’s continuing efforts to expand access to farmers markets and farm stands for SNAP participants. In 2015, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service awarded $8.15 million in competitive funds through the Farmers Market Support Grants program to support SNAP operations at farmers markets. For more information about SNAP and farmers markets please visit, http://www.fns.usda.gov/ebt/snap-and-farmers-markets.
The Farmers Market Support Grants is only one of many changes made in the last several years to strengthen SNAP and increase access to healthy foods for participants. USDA has provided funding to incentivize participants in SNAP to purchase more healthy fruits and vegetables through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program, started a pilot that allows food purchasing and delivery services to accept SNAP benefits as payment for homebound elderly and disabled participants, and proposed updated SNAP retailer standards to include different varieties of healthy qualifying foods.
Supporting farmers markets is a part of the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF2) Initiative, which coordinates the department's work to develop strong local and regional food systems. Over the course of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested close to $1 billion in 40,000 local food-related projects on farms and in communities across the country. You can find local and regional supply chain resources on the newly-revamped KYF2 website and use the KYF2 Compass to locate USDA investments in your community. More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers, expanding rural economic opportunities, and increasing access to healthy food is available in Chapter IV of USDA Results on Medium.
FNS 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.