CFSC and the Farmers Market Coalition Release a Report on SNAP Usage at Farmers Markets
The Community Food Security Coalition recently partnered with the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) to explore the use of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at farmers markets. Formerly known as food stamps, around 40 million Americans currently receive SNAP, and with current economic challenges, applications for benefits are rising in many communities.
In 2008, 0.008% of SNAP dollars were redeemed at farmers markets, down 71% from 1994, the year paper coupons started transitioning to a debit card format. Based on a year-long study, the report, titled Real Food, Real Choice: Connecting SNAP Recipients with Farmers Markets, discusses the challenges in reversing this trend. Using case studies from across the nation, the report shares barriers and opportunities while considering the perspectives of SNAP participants, farmers’ market managers, government agencies, and growers and producers.
On June 22nd, CFSC and FMC sponsored a series of briefings and meetings to share the report’s findings with Congress and federal agencies. The events were well-attended and engaged key policy and decision makers. In addition to the report, Members of Congress [PDF] and USDA officials [PDF] were provided with a summary of key recommendations for which they can begin to take action on now.
Yesterday, on July 15th, CFSC Executive Director Andy Fisher and FMC Executive Director Stacy Miller traveled to New York City to officially release the report to the public. The press release describes the report as “the nation’s largest independent examination of the benefits farmers markets provide to low-income communities.” Furthermore, the release notes that the challenges SNAP participants face in using their benefits at farmers markets is “a fundamental public health issue.” CFSC plans to use findings from the report to inform future policy platforms and advocacy efforts to expand access to healthy, fresh foods to all communities.