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Modernizing SNAP Transactions with Local Farmers

Posted by Katrina Johnston, Public Affairs Specialist, Food and Nutrition Service in Food and Nutrition
Aug 10, 2023
Co-owner Cheryl Nunes standing behind produce at the River Queen Greens farmers market stand

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to about 42 million Americans in need each month. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) ensures that benefits are as convenient and easy to use as possible, however, historically there have been challenges when it comes to connecting participants with local farmers. Fortunately, modern technologies and innovative solutions have emerged to bridge this gap. By embracing online purchasing and mobile payment systems, FNS is creating a more efficient, inclusive, and mutually beneficial relationship between SNAP participants and farmers.

Thanks to a partnership between USDA and the National Association of Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (NAFMNP), direct marketing farmers are now able to accept SNAP payment online. The first direct marketing farmer enabled to accept SNAP online is River Queen Greens, a vegetable farm in New Orleans, Louisiana. SNAP online payments increase accessibility for River Queen Greens customers. “Having the capability for SNAP online payments makes the purchasing process much more seamless,” said co-owner Annie Moore.

Until recently, accepting SNAP payment online was an option primarily available for traditional brick and mortar retailers. As a result of the partnership with NAFMNP, SNAP participants can now purchase produce online from participating local farmers for pick-up or delivery. NAFMNP MarketLink’s Online SNAP solution will help small farmers attract new SNAP customers while providing SNAP participants with better access to fresh, locally grown produce. A win-win for all parties involved!

Thousands of direct marketing farmers apply for SNAP authorization each year. As part of our ongoing support for these farmers, USDA recently opened the competition for the Mobile Application Cooperative Agreement for SNAP Farmers and Markets. Through this grant, up to $4 million in funding will be provided to up to two grantees over a three-year period. The grantees will provide technical assistance to direct marketing farmers selling at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or pick-your-own operations, who wish to become SNAP authorized and enable them to use their mobile phone to conduct transactions. As with past grants, farmers marketing directly to consumers would continue to be provided with a mobile app and a card reader to accept SNAP payments using their mobile phone. The current grant competition is open for applications between July 6-September 5, 2023.

USDA is also helping SNAP participants access more healthy foods from local producers. The SNAP Healthy Incentives Programs encourage healthier eating by incentivizing the purchase of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy foods at participating retailers, including at farmers’ markets. To find out how your local farmers market can participate in an incentive program, you may visit the SNAP Healthy Incentives page.

For more information about the SNAP Online Purchasing program and the full list of retailers approved to provide SNAP online purchasing, visit the SNAP Online webpage. USDA also recommends visiting your local retailer’s website to find out whether grocery delivery is available for your location.

Farmers’ market vendor accepting SNAP EBT payment
Category/Topic: Food and Nutrition