Nearly 2,500 Montanans have used Double SNAP Dollars – a program that matches the amount of SNAP benefits customers spend at local food outlets such as farmers markets (SNAP is a federal food assistance program that was formerly known as Food Stamps). The purchases made by these customers totaled $274,000 – these dollars were spent and recirculated locally and helped boost farmers’ income at the market.
A new report finds that the impacts of this program far exceed its participation numbers or dollar sales. Catie DeMets, a graduate student of the Environmental Studies program at the University of Montana, completed an independent evaluation of the grant program that helped launch Double SNAP Dollars earlier this year.
The report tells the story of an increased community connection for farmers and Double SNAP Dollars customers alike.
A Double SNAP Dollars customer described their experience for the report:
When I first went to farmers market, I felt very on the outside of it. I just wanted to zip in and zip out, and I felt embarrassed that I didn’t have much to spend. But with Double SNAP Dollars, I gradually felt much more part of the community, because I was accepted without being questioned, I was welcomed in every way, and I was greeted with cheer and kindness every week by the market managers and the vendors…Double SNAP Dollars contributes to a higher feeling of wellbeing and energy in the community.
Many farmers indicated the program helped them to more fully realize their missions to feed their communities, as demonstrated by this farmers market vendor:
Access to fresh food is a right! We love serving people who otherwise could not afford local produce.
CFAC is humbled by the stories included in this report and excited to continue the Double SNAP Dollars program into the 2018 season and beyond.
For more information about Double SNAP Dollars visit DoubleDollarsMT.com.