NSAC's Blog

New Grant Funding to Help Farmers Markets Accept SNAP Benefits

May 7, 2015

On Tuesday, May 5th, Kevin Concannon, USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services (FNS), announced the availability of $3.3 million in funding for Farmers Market SNAP Support Grants.

The program aims to support the ability of farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits as a form of payment.

“We have seen an unprecedented growth in the number of farmers markets accepting SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards in the past six years,” said Concannon. According to USDA, there are now more than 6,200 farmers markets and direct marketing farmers authorized to accept SNAP nationwide – an eightfold increase since 2009. “These awards support the markets that may need administrative help in implementing and managing EBT service and informing customers that they can use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets.”

Funded projects must support the establishment, expansion, and promotion of SNAP EBT services at farmers markets and increase SNAP client accessibility and participation at farmers markets.

SNAP acceptance at farmers markets helps SNAP participants access fresh fruits and vegetables and other nutritious foods, while supporting local farmers. In fiscal year 2014, approximately $18.7 million in SNAP benefits were used at farmers markets, an increase of 7.5 percent over 2013. The grant program’s goals of supporting farmers markets and expanding access to healthy, local food is a key element of USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, which coordinates USDA’s effort on local and regional food systems, one of the four pillars of rural economic development identified by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

To see the complete request for applications, please click here.

Eligible Grant Uses and Project Duration

Grant funds may be used for, but are not limited to:

  • Salaries and benefits for time spent on SNAP activities, including operating SNAP-EBT machines and completing SNAP accounting and reporting tasks;
  • creating/operating systems (such as scrip, accounting, record-keeping) necessary to make SNAP operational at markets;
  • training and technical assistance to farmers market volunteers, vendors, and employees on SNAP;
  • creating SNAP outreach and educational materials and performing outreach to current SNAP participants to inform them that they may use their SNAP benefits at farmers markets; and
  • Miscellaneous equipment, other than SNAP-EBT equipment — such as scrip, wifi hotspots, accounting software etc. — necessary for SNAP-EBT equipment to operate at farmers markets.

Projects must have a minimum duration of 13 months and a maximum duration of 36 months.

Funding Available

Up to $3.3 million in competitive grants are available. Awards can range from $15,000 to $250,000 and no matching funds are required.

This grant program may, but is not guaranteed, to continue in subsequent years.

Eligible Applicants

In order to be eligible, applicants must be domestically owned, operated, and located within the United States, to include Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Examples of eligible applicants include —

  • farmers markets
  • farmers market associations
  • nonprofit organizations
  • state and local governments
  • public benefit corporations
  • economic development corporations
  • regional farmers market authorities, and
  • tribal governments.

Key Dates

May 18, 2015 — Applicants must send Letters of Intent by email or regular mail to:

Gregory Walton, Branch Chief

Grant Officer, Grants and Fiscal Policy Division

U.S. Department of Agriculture, FNS

3101 Park Center Drive Room 740

Alexandra, VA 22301

E-mail: greg.walton@fns.usda.gov

June 18, 2015  — Full applications must be submitted via grants.gov by this deadline (11:59 pm Eastern Time)

September 1, 2015 — Funds are expected to be awarded by September.

Review Panels and Bonus Points

FNS plans to assemble peer review panels to review and score applications.

FNS seeks to maximize the number of both SNAP participants and farmers that will benefit from the program.  Therefore, additional points will be given to projects that provide benefits at a regional, State, county, or city-wide scale.

Additionally, proposals that include interventions in communities that have been designated USDA Place Based Initiatives may receive priority consideration. The USDA Place Based Initiatives include but are not limited to: Strikeforce for Rural Growth and Opportunity, Promise Zones, White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities, and Partnership for Sustainable Communities.


Categories: Grants and Programs, Local & Regional Food Systems, Nutrition & Food Access

4 responses to “New Grant Funding to Help Farmers Markets Accept SNAP Benefits”

  1. Can you send me a example of a letter of intent?

  2. Sarah Hackney says:

    Hi Barbara – For this grant program, page 21 of the RFA states that for the LOI: “In addition to indicating the potential applicant’s intention to apply for FMSSG funding, the letter should include the potential applicant’s name and address, and telephone number and e-mail address for the primary point of contact.” It’s not clear whether the description of the intention to apply can be just a sentence or if it needs to be something longer, and unfortunately we don’t have a template or any further information from the agency. We’d recommend following those instructions in the RFA. Best of luck!

  3. How do we get the application details? Will you contact those who submitted letters of intent and from there we will receive the application details, regarding forms to complete?

  4. Sarah Hackney says:

    Hi Joan – NSAC does not administer this program, we’re simply sharing information with the public on this opportunity. You can download the application package here: http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=farmers%20markets (Look for “FNS-SNAP-FMSSG-15” and then click on “application package”).