It's a SNAP! Reaching New Farmers' Market Patrons with Community Collaboration

Monday, July 22, 2013
Desert Ballroom: Salons 7-8 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Heather Friedrich , Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
Curt R. Rom, Co-Director, Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability , Horticulture, Dale Bumpers College, Fayetteville, AR
Kathleen Ochoa , University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR
The University of Arkansas (UA) and the four-county Northwest Arkansas Farmers’ Market Alliance (NWAFMA) collaborated on a USDA Farmers' Market Promotion Program to increase awareness and participation of supplemental nutrition assistance programs (SNAP) recipients at farmers markets by expanding EBT capabilities of markets and providing educational and promotional materials to organizations that support these potential customers.  A supporting grant from Walmart Foundation allowed the NWAFMA markets to develop a “Local Foods Double Dollars” market match program where markets were able to match SNAP purchases dollar for dollar up to $20/market visit. Prior to this project only three farmers' markets out of 11 in Northwest Arkansas were equipped to accept SNAP funds.  Six additional farmers markets' were equipped with electronic benefits transfer (EBT) machines, scrip, and signage as a result of this project.  A brochure and posters printed in English, Spanish and Marshallese, a website, a Facebook page, TV and newspaper ads, and radio ads in English and Spanish were developed to inform potential shoppers of market locations, and dates and hours of operations.  Approximately 15,000 brochures and 150 posters were distributed to Head Start, DHS, food pantries, Extension offices, WIC offices, libraries, and community centers. SNAP customers were surveyed at two of the larger markets in 2012. Surveys results indicate that word of mouth was the most important method for SNAP recipients to learn that SNAP was accepted at the farmers' markets.  Survey results indicated that 65% of SNAP recipients shop at the farmers' market 3 to 4 times per month and if SNAP was not accepted at the markets they would continue to shop there although less often and would spend less money. SNAP recipients infused approximately $41,000 into the local economy with purchases of locally grown and raised products at farmers' markets in 2011 to  2012.
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