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SNAP FAQ: Using SNAP at Your Local Farmers Market

Did you know SNAP dollars could be used to buy food at your local farmers market? Learn how it works in our latest video, and if you aren’t yet enrolled in SNAP, check out our video from last month, which covers SNAP basics and how to apply.

For people who get SNAP benefits, local farmer’s markets are a great place to get healthy foods and support the local economy. Plus, the market near you may even give you a little extra to spend. They are also a great place to meet new people.

What can you buy at a farmers market with SNAP?

Farmers markets, like FRESHFARM Markets in Arlington, VA, feature tons of vendors selling everything from meats, poultry, fruits, and vegetables to bread, handmade pasta, cheese, and more. Nearly everything at farmers markets is available for purchase with your SNAP dollars, except a few things, like fresh flowers or soap. For a complete list of what you can and cannot buy with your EBT card, check out this list of eligible SNAP items. All in all, farmers markets are a great grocery store substitute for SNAP recipients because they offer nothing but fresh, local foods and are a one-stop shop for everything you could need to fill your fridge.

How to use your EBT card at farmers markets

When you arrive at your local farmers market, look for a market information table, and tell the person at the table that you would like to use your SNAP dollars to purchase food. The person will need to swipe your EBT card—so make sure you have it handy—and then they will give you tokens to use—one token for every SNAP dollar you want to spend. The tokens never expire—so don’t worry if you end up taking out too many—but they cannot be exchanged.

How to double your SNAP dollars at farmers markets

Some farmers markets, like FRESHFARM Markets, even have what’s called a Match Incentive Program, which means the farmers market will match every dollar you spend, up to a maximum amount of $10. For example, you could potentially take home $20 worth of food, but only spend $10 of your own SNAP dollars. Not every farmers market participates in the matching program, so contact a farmers market near you first to see if they offer the program. For a complete list of farmers markets, visit the National Farmers Market Directory.

Get the most out of your SNAP dollars

One way to make the most of your grocery budget is to plan your meals before you shop. Start by making a list of everything you need. That will make sure you don’t forget to buy something and will help you get more for your SNAP dollars. You have quite a bit of freedom on how to spend your SNAP benefits at the farmer’s market and at the grocery store. Bread, cereal, fruits, veggies, meat, fish, poultry, and dairy products all can be purchased with SNAP. You can’t use SNAP for things like hot meals or alcoholic beverages, but food items like ice cream can be purchased with SNAP.

Have a question about SNAP? Please share in the comments below!

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About Erin Kee

Erin Kee is Senior Program Manager for NCOA's Hunger Initiatives. Erin is passionate about ending senior hunger and helping older adults enroll in SNAP.