How do you make your food stamps go farther? Take them to the farmers market!
GrowMemphis has launched a new program to give shoppers using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps, more purchasing power at two Memphis farmers markets. The new program, called Double Green$, will provide a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10 when shoppers spend their SNAP benefits at participating farmers markets.
Earlier this year, the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, South Memphis Farmers Market, and Urban Farms Market became the first farmers markets in Memphis, and among the first in Tennessee, to accept SNAP benefits market-wide. Now, the Double Green$ program will go even further toward increasing access to fresh, healthy, and affordable foods, especially in the food desert areas surrounding or nearby these markets, by making locally grown fruits and vegetables more affordable.
Both the Cooper-Young and South Memphis farmers markets are participating in Double Green$. The Urban Farms market is waiting for a determination of their eligibility. All three markets currently accept food stamps.
“We’ve been slowly ramping up this program with our SNAP customers for the past few weeks, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive from vendors and shoppers alike,” said Sue Easley, organizer of the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market. “It’s been a great experience working with GrowMemphis and our other local farmers markets as a team to bring something to Memphis that has the potential to really help our low-income residents, our farmers, our neighborhoods, and our rural communities, all in one swoop.”
How does it work? Shoppers can go to the market booth and swipe their EBT card, receiving tokens that can be spent with vendors. Double Green$ will match, dollar-for-dollar and up to $10, the amount that they put on their EBT card with tokens that can be used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Double Green$ gets more people to the markets, increases revenue for farmers, and increases access to healthy foods for low-income residents” says Josephine Alexander of GrowMemphis, “We know that food stamps make Tennessee stronger. Now, food stamps can make farmers markets stronger, too.”
By increasing attendance and sales at farmers markets in areas with limited access to healthy food, those markets become stronger and more successful, so that they can continue to serve neighborhood residents with much needed access to healthy and affordable food choices.
In order to bring this program to Memphis, GrowMemphis partnered with Wholesome Wave, a Connecticut-based non-profit working with partners in 26 states to implement double value coupon programs like Double Green$ that benefit consumers in under-served communities and the farmers who provide for them.
The program is expected to run through the end of October. Funds for Double Green$ have been provided by the Wholesome Wave Foundation, Whole Foods Market, the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, and Seedco.