Accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) benefits at farmers markets can be a win-win situation for markets and vendors alike, as well as SNAP clients. In 2017, Virginians in every county in the Commonwealth were collectively issued more than $1 billion in SNAP benefits. Accepting SNAP allows SNAP clients to use their benefits to purchase nutritious local foods and support local farmers, helping local agriculture.

Approved foods that can be purchased with SNAP include meat, dairy, fruits, vegetables, herbs, canned goods, baked goods, and food bearing plant starts or seeds. Hot foods, foods meant to be consumed at the market, and alcohol are not allowed to be purchased with SNAP benefits.

All SNAP benefit purchases are now made with an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which is similar to a credit or debit card linked to the individual’s SNAP benefits account. Many farmers markets purchase or apply for funding for a Point of Sale swipe machine. These machines can also be set up to accept debit and credit cards, which increases sales opportunities for vendors by allowing potential customers without cash to shop at the market.

Virginia Fresh Match Doubles the Value of SNAP

Virginia Fresh Match (VFM) is a resource for innovative markets that doubles the value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) spent at participating farmers markets and retail sites.

With Virginia Fresh Match, low-income consumers can afford additional healthy food, local farmers gain new customers and make more money, and more food dollars stay in the local economy.

New to SNAP?

Is your market interested in accepting SNAP? If so, first check out Virginia Cooperative Extension’s EBT Toolkit for Farmers Markets (which includes a step-by-step EBT manual and SNAP marketing templates).

If you manage a market in Virginia, your market is eligible for free SNAP EBT equipment through the Virginia Department of Social Services (contact Claudia Jackson).

Accept SNAP but New to Virginia Fresh Match?

Does your market already accept SNAP, but doesn’t yet offer nutrition incentives? Virginia Fresh Match is always looking to expand Virginia’s network to new markets. Contact them today.

Want to Reach More SNAP Customers?

Does your market already offer nutrition incentives, but you want to reach even more SNAP customers? VCE’s SNAP Self-Assessment tool (see EBT Toolkit) can help your market attract and retain more SNAP customers.