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Systems that Work (It): SNAP Matching

November 29, 2011

Photo from wikimedia commons

I originally didn’t think there was any reason to write about SNAP matching, because I figured that everyone knows about it. But the more I talk to people 1) from other parts of the country and 2) who don’t use food stamps, the more I realize this isn’t completely well-known.

SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/you might know them as food stamps), can nowadays be used at many farmers markets. There are usually booths, where you can run your SNAP card like at a store, and get tokens in exchange. This is in and of itself fantastic, but some of these markets go a step further, and have matching programs. Up to a certain point, for every food stamp token a person buys, they get another matched. $1 becomes $2 in tokens, $2 becomes $4, and so on. It makes farmers markets more affordable and perhaps more approachable. And it’s a three-fer, which I love. It helps the SNAP shopper, the farmers who get new customers, and the local economy. Most programs match up to $5 a week, although some go up to $10 (and a particularly fantastic one I used to go to matches up to $25!)

Find a market near you, and if you use SNAP, take advantage of the matching. Or ask how to make a donation to keep the program running. Many businesses (such as grocery stores) fund large portions of programs for a season, so if you can’t donate yourself, send an email or letter to thank those funders.

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