All Farmers Markets should accept SNAP cards! Here’s how!

Amazing! In Worcester we have an inner-city farmers market that does NOT accept SNAP cards! A slap in the face to this neighborhood’s residents? A creepily phony way to keep poor people from over running this “COMMUNITY” farmers market? Why would Harvard Pilgrim Health give money to this farmers market – a farmers market that sells $6 loaves of bread in the middle of an inner-city neighborhood filled with poor people? And will NOT accept their SNAP cards??

– R. Tirella


This is how SNAP can be accepted at this farmers market:

We are putting together a state-wide application for a federal grant that would provide SNAP incentives at farmers markets, mobile markets, CSAs, and at farm stands.

They have put together a concept paper and are having 4 informational meetings around the state.

The Worcester one is this coming Friday the 14,  10 a.m -2 p.m. at CMRPC’s offices at Union Station.  

This is a great opportunity to help increase access to fresh local food across the state!


Some background:

The USDA has released a Request for Applications (RFA) for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program.

It is intended to bring together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system to ultimately improve the nutrition and health status of SNAP households.

Under FINI, applicants may propose relatively small pilot projects (Tier 1), multi-year community-based projects (Tier 2), or larger-scale multi-year projects (Tier 3).

Funded projects will test community based strategies that could contribute to the understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of purchase, supported by effective and efficient benefit redemption technologies, that would inform future efforts.

FINI is a joint effort between the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP.

After many discussions and based upon the numerous enquiries and interest in FINI received to date, we are proposing a state-led inter-departmental (Dept. of Transitional Assistance (DTA), Dept. of Agricultural Resources (DAR), and Dept. of Public Health (DPH) grant application (Tier 3) with a broad base coalition of statewide partners.

Given the grant parameters, the focus will be on incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases at the point of sale at farmers’ markets, farm stands, CSAs, mobile markets, and the Boston Pubic Market—building off of the systems functionality developed for the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP), conducted in Hampden County.

This pilot provided direct incentives to SNAP clients at the point of sale when purchasing fruits and vegetables using their EBT card. Based on HIP evaluation results and current matching programs, we are proposing a 100% incentive (dollar for dollar match) be provided for each SNAP dollar spent on target fruits and vegetables purchased, with a maximum incentive earned per household each month, subject to a $40 dollar cap.

The incentive would be calculated and instantly applied to the customer’s SNAP benefit account.

The incentive earned could be spent on any future SNAP purchase.

A concept paper has been developed and we are scheduling four statewide meetings in an effort to garner feedback, technical input, and support from our various community partners.

Given the broad interest in supporting financial incentives (e.g., matching programs at farmers’ markets) FINI may provide an opportunity to expand current support of these programs across each of these points of sale.

Information sessions will be scheduled in the following locations:

1.       East Wareham, UMass Cranberry Station Conference Room: Wednesday, November 12th, 10:00 – Noon

2.       Somerville, Location TBC: Wednesday, November 12th, 2:30 – 4:30

3.       Holyoke, MGHPCC Conference: Thursday, November 13th, 1:00 – 3:00

4.       Worcester, Union Station, CMPRC, 2nd Conference Room: Friday, November 14, 10 am– Noon

We welcome your participation and look forward to discussing this grant opportunity further.

We will continue to keep you updated on progress on the grant submission.

Frank Martinez Nocito

Assistant Director, SNAP Nutrition Education

MA Department of Transitional Assistance

310 State Street, Springfield, MA

Phone: 413.858.1380

Mobile: 617.308.5826

Fax: 413.858.1375