The Obama administration is offering up to $3.3 million in taxpayer-funded grants to increase the use of food stamps at farmers markets.
Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon says the availability of the competitive grants — ranging from $15,000 – $250,000 — to promote Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamp services and use at farmers markets.
“We have seen an unprecedented growth in the number of farmers markets accepting SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards in the past six years,” Concannon said in a statement.
“These awards support the markets that may need administrative help in implementing and managing EBT service and informing customers that they can use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets,” he added.
The grants are part of an ongoing effort by USDA to increase SNAP participants’ access to fresh, healthy food.
According to USDA, there are now more than 6,200 farmers markets and direct marketing farmers that accept SNAP, a number the USDA notes is eight times the level it was at the beginning of the Obama administration.
Last fiscal year SNAP participants spent some $18.7 million in food stamps at farmers markets, 13 percent more than in 2013.
According to the most recent available data, in January more than 46 million Americans were participating in SNAP, down slightly from the record highs the program experienced in 2012 and 2013, but still vastly greater than before the recession.