The pandemic-related temporary increase in SNAP benefits came to an end earlier this year across the country. Since then, millions of Americans have reportedly witnessed a reduction in their monthly SNAP benefits of at least $95, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Americans have found ways to stretch their SNAP benefits this summer by purchasing fresh produce at neighborhood farmers’ markets.
Significant Increase of SNAP matches
In Somerville, Massachusetts, the Union Square Main Streets (USMS) and the Union Square Farmers Market both provide a dollar-for-dollar local match for SNAP for all 25 Saturdays of the market season, according to Cambridge Day. Some farmers’ markets across the country will match every time you use your SNAP benefits up to a certain limit. For instance, if you spend $20 on fresh vegetables, only $10 of your own SNAP benefits are used, according to Yahoo! Finance.
According to Emily Kaplan, owner of P+E Wellness in Somerville and 2024 master’s candidate at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, the percentage of Somerville residents who are food insecure has significantly grown since the pandemic’s beginning. According to Kaplan, there has been a 217% rise in demand for SNAP matches at the food market and a 39% increase in participation in the match at the Union Square Farmers Market since the start of the market season.
Fresh Produce included in SNAP Benefits
The majority of markets have a market information booth where customers can scan their EBT cards in exchange for tokens to pay market merchants for SNAP-eligible goods. These grocery store staples, such as fruit, vegetables, bread and cereals, meat, dairy goods, snacks, and drinks, as well as seeds and plants that generate food, are all eligible items for SNAP benefits.
Contact a local farmers’ market to determine if it offers the matching program as not all of them do. In addition, a monthly list of the names and locations of markets around the nation is made available by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.