As a farmers market manager in St. Louis, I’ve been working the past several years to get our city caught up with the rest of the nation when it comes to farmer’s market accessibility.
Two years ago, only two of our smallest farmers markets even took SNAP, also known as food stamps, as a payment option. That number has now increased to six (and soon seven) farmers markets in St. Louis city and county.
The next step in the process is to create a SNAP double dollar program that makes farmers market food more affordable.
The program is based on similar ones across the country like Beans & Greens in Kansas City and Double Up Bucks in Michigan, which have shown remarkable success in increasing access to local, healthy foods for low-income families as well as increasing income for local farmers.
Missourians spend over $1.4 billion dollars in SNAP funds each year, and this program makes sure that more of that money stays in our local economy by getting more of it to local farmers and food entrepreneurs.
To help establish this program, St. Louis farmers markets are in the midst of a month-long Indiegogo campaign – SNAP 2 It!.
Money raised by the campaign will go directly to SNAP recipients to increase their buying power at local producer-only farmers markets.
If the markets reach their goal when the campaign ends on August 15, SNAP recipients will be able to bring their EBT card to shop at any participating farmers market starting in late August 2014.
They’ll receive up to $10 in matching funds to spend on SNAP-eligible items at the market.
Cherokee St. International Farmers Market, EarthDance Farms (at Ferguson Farmers Market), International Institute of St. Louis’ Global Farms, North City Farmers’ Market, Schlafly Farmers Market, Tower Grove Farmers’ Market and Webster Grove Farmers Market are the markets involved.
We hope to add even more farmers markets in 2015. We also hope to increase the funding for the program through government and foundation grants, as well as private and corporate donations.
By Brian DeSmet
Schlafly Farmers Market