Food Assistance

For direct market sales, the best way to expand your customer base is for you, or your market, to accept SNAP benefits as a form of payment.

Arizona has several food assistance programs to help families afford a healthy diet, many of which include options for participants to shop at farmers markets and buy direct from you or your farm. Below are several active programs in Arizona and you can find a complete list of programs here.

SNAP Benefits (f.k.a Food Stamps)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers SNAP at the Federal level through its Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).  In 2008, the U.S. Congress changed the name of the Food Stamp Program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This new name better reflects the goal of the program:  to help provide healthy food to low-income families with children and vulnerable adults. Simply put, SNAP helps low-income people and families buy the food they need for good health.

Locally, SNAP is administered through the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), which determines eligibility and allotments, and distribution of benefits.

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To reduce the stigma associated with traditional food stamps, SNAP benefits are provided on an electronic benefit card (EBT) that is used like an ATM or debit card and accepted at most grocery stores and many farmers’ markets.  Through various nutrition education partners, SNAP also helps clients learn to make healthy eating and active lifestyle choices.

The USDA establishes eligibility requirements for SNAP.  Eligibility is based on a household’s resources, income and other requirements.

Arizona farmers and Farmers Markets interested in accepting SNAP benefits as a form of payment can follow a manual and checklists. Open or download here.

SNAP Match Programs

“SNAP Match” is a financial incentive where the value of SNAP benefits can be doubled when used for fresh, Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables -- essentially, it is another form of currency that helps participants buy your produce. The wins of these programs are three-fold: low-income consumers eat more healthy food, local farmers gain new customers and make more money, and more dollars stay in the local economy.

For instance, a SNAP-user can spend $10 on any SNAP-eligible product like bread and cheese, and then they can receive an additional $10 to spend on fresh, Arizona-grown fruits and veggies. At some markets, up to $20 of spending can be matched through this program, per day! In 2017 alone, these programs resulted in an additional $120,685 spent at local farmers markets and put in the pockets of Arizona farmers at participating sites.

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In Arizona, SNAP Match programs have been in place since 2014. Initially piloted in Tucson and athen in other urban centers, these programs are now taking root in rural communities.

Double Up Food Bucks AZ
The Double Up AZ program doubles the value of SNAP benefits used at farmers markets across Arizona, and has expanded to include brick and mortar locations.

Featured Participant: Eric and May Abraham at Best Farmers Market

Dollar Amount: Up to $20 per day
Administered by: Pinnacle Prevention
For locations & more info: http://www.pinnacleprevention.org/doubleupfoodbucksaz.html
Contact: Jessie Gruner, jessiegruner@pinnacleprevention.org

Fresh Fund
The Fresh Fund program is available only at the IRC New Roots Farm Stand in Maryvale.
Featured Participant: Tek at the ABC Market

Administered by: International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Dollar Amount: Up to $10 per day
For locations & more info: http://www.pinnacleprevention.org/doubleupfoodbucksaz.html

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Farmers Market Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children

The Arizona Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is a federally funded program to increase awareness of and sales at Farmers Markets to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in income eligible women, children and seniors.

The program provides fruit and vegetable benefits to women and children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and to seniors who participate in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). Program participants use special checks to purchase fresh produce directly from Approved Growers at Approved Farmers’ Markets. These direct purchases of locally grown fruits and vegetables increase the Growers’ share of the food dollar, keep more of the consumer dollar in local communities, help to strengthen Farmers’ Markets, and increase consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables among eligible participants.

Farmers Markets across the state are eligible to accept these benefits and increase their customer base. Learn more and begin the process here: https://azdhs.gov/prevention/azwic/farmers-markets/index.php