Farmers’ Markets and the D.C. Farmers’ Market Collaborative
Farmers’ markets are an important source of fresh, nutritious food for urban residents and a key asset to communities across the city. Farmers’ markets also benefit low-income residents in the District of Columbia. Many low-income neighborhoods in D.C. have few, if any, food retail outlets that sell a variety of fresh produce. Farmers’ markets have low start-up costs and flexible models, which enable them to be responsive to the needs of a community. They can provide low-income consumers with:
- A venue for using federal nutrition program benefits to purchase fresh produce
- A venue for purchasing local produce
- Nutrition education and ideas on preparing foods
- A place to build community
Find the market closest to you: http://rootingdc.org/dc-food-map/!
Want to know what programs are offered at the markets or if the market accepts your federal benefits?
The D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative was convened in 2006 by D.C. Hunger Solutions to increase access to fresh produce for low income residents. Since then the D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative has seen a rapid expansion in the number of farmers’ markets in the city, from 25 in 2006 to 45 in 2015, and with it an expansion in access. Today more than 40 of the city’s 45 farmers’ markets accept SNAP and more accept WIC and Senior benefits!
The D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative is co-convened today by D.C. Hunger Solutions and D.C. Greens and works on a variety of issues, including increasing fresh food access and partnering with city leaders and government agencies to support farmers’ markets in D.C.
- Provide guidance to farmers’ markets so they can accept federal nutrition benefits – food stamps, WIC, and Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
- Collaborate with farmers’ markets and city officials to streamline city processes for markets and establish cohesive city policies regulating farmers' markets.
- Promote farmers’ markets to low-income residents as a source of fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.
- Offer a network of local farmers’ market experts.
- Adams Morgan Farmers Market
- Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture
- AYA Community Markets
- Brookland Farmers Market
- Capital Harvest on the Plaza
- Columbia Heights Community Marketplace
- Community Food Partners
- DC Urban Greens
- FRESHFARM Markets
- Georgetown Farmers’ Market in Rose Park
- Historic Brookland Farmers’ Market
- Markets & More
- Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market
- New Morning Farm Markets
- Open Air Farmers’ Market at RFK
- PCDC Edgewood Farmers Market
- Riverside/Heritage Park
- United States Department of Agriculture
- University of the District of Columbia
- District of Columbia Department of Health
- DC Greens
- D.C. Hunger Solutions
- DC WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
- Wholesome Wave
More than 140,000 District residents benefit from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps) each month. With SNAP, you can buy fresh produce, grains, meat, and dairy products at grocery stores, corner stores, and even farmers’ markets. This year, more than 40 farmers’ markets in the District accept SNAP EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards.
To accept SNAP benefits, a farmers’ market needs to:
- Obtain an FNS Number from the USDA
- Obtain a point-of-sale (POS) device to accept EBT
- You can apply through Market Link
For an overview about accepting SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets click here: http://www.fns.usda.gov/ebt/learn-about-snap-benefits-farmers-markets
The Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is for children up to age 5 and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. WIC participants can get $25 in “Get Fresh” checks to be used for fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets throughout the District. They can also use Cash-Value Checks for produce at farmers’ markets. More than 20 markets have farmers who accept “Get Fresh” checks and Cash-Value Checks.
To accept WIC benefits, farmers’ markets should contact Sabrina Lewis (email@example.com or 202-442-9367) at the District Department of Health (DOH). DOH will provide the materials for farmer vendors at your market to apply to able to accept WIC benefits.
Senior Grocery Plus and Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)
District residents age 60 and over can be eligible for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) if they enroll in the Grocery Plus Program (formerly, Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP)), which provides food packages to seniors. The Senior FMNP provides $25 worth of "Get Fresh" checks that can be used to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at more than 20 farmers’ markets throughout the District.
To accept Senior FMNP benefits, farmers’ markets should contact Sabrina Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-442-9367) at the District Department of Health (DOH). DOH will provide the materials for farmer vendors at your market to apply to able to accept WIC benefits.
Now heading into its second year, DOH’s Produce Plus Program offers District residents who receive SNAP, WIC, Grocery Plus, Medicaid, SSI Disability, and TANF $10/week/market to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables. Program beneficiaries are not required to spend anything to receive the $10 voucher, but with additional matches available at some markets shoppers are encouraged to use their EBT, as well as WIC and Grocery Plus checks to get extra to purchase fresh, local produce.
Many farmers’ markets additionally offer “bonus” or “matching” programs. This means that someone who redeems $5 in benefits could purchase $10 of fresh, local food. Markets that offer bonus programs may double $5, $10 or $15 in purchases. Learn more by looking at your neighborhood farmers’ market’s website or by asking staff at the market’s information table. For more information, click here: http://dcgreens.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/FederalBenefits_Flyer_20151.pdf
The D.C. Farmers’ Market Collaborative works closely with the D.C. Council and D.C. government agencies to streamline city processes for markets and establish cohesive city policies regulating farmers' markets. Currently, the collaborative is working with D.C. Council on the Farmers Market Support Act of 2015. Additionally, the collaborative works closely with DOH to ensure that as many District residents as possible have access to fresh, local produce and the farmers who grow it.
Wonder where the closest farmers’ market is to you? Want to know if the market accepts your federal benefits? Take a look at our outreach materials! Use these posters and brochures to tell your community about the markets near you that accept SNAP/Food Stamps and Get Fresh checks and offer bonus programs. Outreach materials are updated in the spring of each year.
Farmers’ Market Map Poster (pdf) – English
The D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative is a strong network of experts. The market managers are a powerful resource for each other, able to share tips and tricks for renewing permits, community outreach, accepting federal benefits, and much more. If you have questions about starting a farmers’ market in your community or about a current market you are running, submit your queries to the D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative listserv. Request permission to join by emailing: Lillie@dcgreens.org or LBadger@dchunger.org
Expanding fresh produce access for low-income residents
In 2012, the D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative successfully advocated D.C. Council for the inclusion of $50,000 in the District’s FY 2013 budget for a pilot “Bonus Bucks” program at D.C. farmers’ markets. This program grew in FY 2014 to a budget of $200,000 and rolled out as the Produce Plus Program. The Produce Plus Program is run through the D.C. Department of Health. Through this program, any D.C. resident who receives SNAP, WIC, CSFP, Medicaid, SSI, or TANF is eligible to receive $10 per family/market/week to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables at D.C. farmers’ markets. Of the $165,000 checks that were distributed to low-income, District residents in 2014, 89.5% were redeemed with local farmers. The D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative plans to continue working closely with the District Department of Health to make Produce Plus program implementation better each year!
The city’s farmers’ markets have also been strong proponents for the Get Fresh! program. Many markets require their farmer vendors to accept WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, WIC Cash Value Checks, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks, creating more access to fresh fruits and vegetables for individuals and families with limited budgets.
Helping farmers’ markets accept food stamps
The first goal the D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative set was to help farmers’ markets in D.C. accept food stamps. Achieving this goal has been a clear success! In 2007, only two of the District’s 25 farmers’ markets accepted SNAP benefits, and today over 40 of the city’s 45 markets accept SNAP. Getting to this widespread usage was no small feat. In 2008, D.C. Hunger Solutions, with a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, provided: trainings, application assistance, wireless Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) machines, stipends, and outreach materials to four markets. This support built a swell of interest amongst market managers. By 2011, 19 of the city’s farmers’ markets were equipped to accept SNAP benefits, and in 2012, 24 markets accepted SNAP.
Building better municipal systems for farmers’ markets
D.C. Farmers’ Market Collaborative members have built strong relationships with D.C. Council and city agency officials. Over the past several years, the D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative has worked closely with the city to amend permitting regulations for farmers markets. Currently, the D.C. Farmers Market Collaborative is working with several city agencies to improve vending regulations for farmers’ markets