5 Ways to Double Your Impact

Double your impact for CFAC’s Double SNAP Dollars program

Double SNAP Dollars is in its third year and as successful and effective as ever.

With 7 retailers, 1,000 participants, and $100,000 contributed to the economy in 2016, the program has proven to be an extremely valuable asset to our local, sustainable food system.

In 2017, that impact is on track to double. In just three months, Double SNAP Dollars has grown to 11 retailers, 615 participants, and over $33,000 contributed to the economy.

Below are five easy ways to support the program and double your impact for Double SNAP.

ONE: Take the SNAP Challenge.

Taking the SNAP Challenge means you commit to eating on $5/day (including coffee!) for a week (September 20th-September 27th) to put yourself in the shoes of those who struggle to put healthy food on the table. Why put yourself in another’s shoes? Because when we have empathy for others, we are better advocates. And, as our food system tells us: we are all connected.

“We never really understand another person until we climb into their skin and walk around in it.” — Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Let others know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it to raise awareness of those who experience hunger 365 days of the year in your own community – and nationwide. Contact Kim@MissoulaCFAC.org for a SNAP Challenge toolkit.

TWO: Contact your elected representatives and ask them to take the SNAP Challenge, too.

The U.S. House will vote on the budget resolution this month. The resolution proposes drastic cuts to the SNAP program, and those who currently receive SNAP benefits – including the elderly, children, low-wage workers, and folks who are differently-abled, stand to lose needed food assistance.

If our representatives commit to taking the SNAP Challenge, they will have a greater understanding of the potential damage this budget resolution will cause in our communities. It’s simple to find your U.S. House representative and contact them – just enter your zip code online to get email contact information or call the generic Capitol phone line to enter your zip code and contact by phone: 202-224-3121.

THREE: Become a Challenge Champion.

Start a fundraiser to benefit CFAC’s Double SNAP Dollars campaign to raise $16,000 for the 16,000 Missoulians who struggle to put healthy food on the table. Just click the “Start Fundraising” button to set up your own fundraising page.

Start fundraising

It takes 5 minutes to set up a page and begin making a big difference. Raising $500 is as easy as asking 20 people (family, friends, colleagues, non-Montanans) to donate $25, and we’ll be providing plenty of resources to make your campaign easy and painless – just ask Heidi, who has already raised nearly 50% of her goal (thank you Heidi!).

Heidi fundraiser

FOUR: Make an individual contribution to CFAC’s Double SNAP Dollars campaign.

For every dollar you donate, one more Missoulian has greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables, one more farmer has a little more income, and one more community becomes a little more self-sustaining. When we all work together to achieve collective impact, the impact is exponential!

Organize!

FIVE: Pass this opportunity on to 5 folks you think might be interested in doubling their impact.

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CFAC Cherry Fundraiser

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It’s summertime in Montana, which means the Flathead cherries are in season!  Now you have the opportunity to get your cherries and support Community Food & Agriculture Coalition! CFAC will be picking cherries at Flathead Lake in mid July. You can pre-order a 10 pound box for $35 by contacting Bonnie Buckingham at 406-880-0543 or bonnie@missoulacfac.org. Cherries will be available for delivery or pick-up on July 23rd at a location to be determined. (Payments due at the time of order. Please make checks payable to CFAC.)

At CFAC, we work to build a sustainable local food economy by conserving critical farmlands, assisting beginning farmers and ranchers, and creating ways for everyone to have access to healthy food. To learn more about our programs and the work we do in Missoula, and surrounding areas visit missoulacfac.org, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You SNAP We Match

IMG_5990It’s finally starting to feel like summer, which means local produce is becoming more abundant, a time that many of us look forward to. We know Montanans love supporting local, visiting farmers’ markets, picking up a weekly bounty of local produce from a CSA, and choosing local at a neighborhood grocery store. We also know that a lot of community members would love to support local and eat more fresh produce, but their limited budgets make it difficult.

Due to various life and economic circumstances, many Montanans utilize SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the nation’s largest largest anti-hunger program, to make ends meet. CFAC believes everyone should have the opportunity to access healthy, local food and to participate in our great state’s local food system. We have worked towards this vision in the past by starting the state’s first EBT program, which allows customers to use their SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets. And now we are proud to be a coordinator of  the Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) program. While the program is available year round at the Missoula Community Food Co-op, it increases in popularity during the summertime because the majority of DSD retailers are farmers markets or CSA providers.   

DSD-Box-Logo-LargeThe DSD program offers double the value on SNAP benefits at farmers markets, on CSA shares, and at the Missoula Community Food Co-op. For example, shoppers can spend $10 of their SNAP benefits and receive $10 free to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. Folks with limited incomes often have to sacrifice food security (and health) for other expenses like bills and rent. On average, SNAP only provides around $4 a day – a very limited food budget considering this price does not even cover the cost of some cups of coffee. SNAP is supposed to be supplemental, meaning it’s a boost to the recipient’s food budget. In reality, that’s often all a family has to spend on food. This is why DSD is such a vital program – it gives people access to nutritious foods that they might not have otherwise.

DSD can have a profound impact on customers. In fact, 95%+ of customers reported thatDSCN2931 DSD helped lessen their concerns about having enough money to eat healthy meals. We hear uplifting stories all of the time about customers’ excitement over the ability to feed themselves and their families with local produce, sometimes even expressed as tears of joy. One of our customers was happy to share their DSD experience with us: “This is the first farmers market I have attended and because of this program I will buy fresh, local produce and support local growers and economy!”  

SNAP customers aren’t the only beneficiaries of this program, local farmers are the backbone of DSD and the program would not be possible without them! An important aspect of Double SNAP Dollars is supporting proper compensation for farmers. The program relieves farmers of the burden of lowering prices to make produce more affordable and spreads that cost around to the rest of the community and even the federal government. Farmers are often equally as excited to get local produce into the homes of more customers as customers are themselves. One of our Missoula Market vendors said it best: “The more money people get, the more they will spend” – which was made evident by the 29% increase in EBT sales among DSD retailers in 2016. In fact, when you add this increase in sales plus the value of Double SNAP Dollars spent, over $100,000 was spent on local and fresh foods in Western Montana in 2016. Not only do farmers and local businesses like the Missoula Food Co-op see an increase in sales, but the program generates a considerable economic stimulus in communities that offer DSD.

DSD is appreciated by so many because it is a win-win-win! It promotes food security, healthy diets, small agriculture, and the local economy. People want to participate in their local economy, support their farmers, and eat well. Double SNAP Dollars allows for all of this to happen. For our part, CFAC is doing what we can to help more and more retailers take advantage of the many great benefits of this program- three more retailers in three different communities joined the Double SNAP team this year! Check out our website to see all participating locations, learn more, and even check out a recipe or two: DoubleDollarsMT.com. Be sure to like our Facebook page as well: DoubleDollarsMT.

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Ending Childhood Hunger, In Season

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CFAC is a proud coalition member of the Montana Partnership to End Childhood Hunger (MT PECH). MT PECH’s plan to end childhood hunger is in full swing throughout the year, but there are some seasonal programs that are important steps in that plan. Read on for highlights of summertime programs working to end childhood hunger in MT.

Here’s a preview of what’s below:

Step 3: Expand reach of Summer Food Service Programs
– “Summertime, when the livin’ is hard for hungry children”

Step 5: Increase access to public food programs
– The skinny on WIC and eWIC
– Advertise or set up a SNAP clinic in your area!

Step 6: Improve access to healthy, affordable, locally-grown food
– 
Healthy Food 4 All: Innovative programs in the Flathead
– Building Farmers’ Market Success: A Three-year Project

Tip Corner: Simple ways to enjoy local food

 


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Step 3: Expand reach of Summer Food Service Programs: There are a number of summer meal program sites in Montana, but there can always be more. Read this Huffington Post article for information about Summer Food Service Programs and how to get involved. “Summertime, when the livin’ is hard for hungry children”

 


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Step 5: Increase access to public food programs
– The skinny on WIC and eWIC
– Advertise or set up a SNAP clinic in your area!

The skinny on WIC and eWIC

Kati Burton, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist/WIC Public Health Nutritionist, and Arwyn Welander, Senior Community Health Specialist, with the Missoula City-County Health Department provide some insight into WIC, an important public food program to support pregnant and breastfeeding women and children.

What is WIC and how does it address the day-to-day struggles of families (and kids) facing poverty and food insecurity?
From Kati: WIC is unique in that it is nutrition-based. Not only are families able to benefit from receiving grocery store vouchers, but they also see nutrition counselors, including registered dietitian nutritionists, at least 4 times a year for growth checks and important nutrition guidance, such as breastfeeding benefits and feeding transitions from infancy to childhood. Community referrals to services are made in our clinics as well.

WIC vouchers can be used across Montana at most grocery outlets, and include food staples such as milk, eggs, beans, bread, peanut butter, fruits and vegetables, as well as infant formula for mothers/babies that are unable to breastfeed. Eligibility for the program includes all pregnant, breastfeeding and post-partum women, infants, and children to age five, that fall within 185% of the poverty level. At some point in time, many families in Montana will face poverty and food insecurity; and risk nutrient deficiency and chronic disease. By supplementing foods that can be consumed as part of a healthy diet, we can reduce the occurrence or worry of food running out on any given day.

Families in Montana, however, continue to share stories of running out of food, regardless of the assistance provided by WIC, SNAP, shelters, and food banks or pantries. As a Health Department in Missoula, (where WIC is housed), we continue to work closely with community providers to connect parents and children to quality nutritious foods that are accessible every day of the week.

What are some ways the health department is working to increase participation in the WIC program?
Continual customer service improvements at our clinic and more time in the community are some primary goals for our WIC team. A number of eligible families are not taking advantage of the WIC program in Missoula, so we attend community events and partner with other organizations as well as clinical providers, to increase awareness. We also work together as a team to make appointments simple and enjoyable for families so that they return for follow ups, but also tell their friends!

What can others do to increase participation in WIC?
Refer, refer, refer!  A call to the WIC office to check eligibility for any family in Missoula is worth yours or their time. Also, if you would like to partner with our WIC team on a food access or community project to increase continuity of care, let’s get the conversation started. We all have limited resources, but even the smallest initiatives can make big impacts.

What’s going on with eWIC?
Starting in September, families will be able to use a card, similar to SNAP, to purchase all of their benefits. They will also have access to a phone application that displays foods available for participants from month to month. Grocery receipts will also display remaining benefits after a purchase is made. This will hugely impact our families! Vouchers can be very difficult to use, in that every food item on one check must be purchased at the same time. The eWIC card will allow flexibility in timing purchases throughout the month based on when families actually need it. I suspect participation may improve as well, not only for improved flexibility, but also in reducing stigma around using the WIC benefits since parents can simply swipe what looks like a credit card.

How will the new system affect WIC at the farmers’ markets?
From Arwyn: WIC will continue to distribute Farmers Market coupons, so no change there.  The only change is Fruit and Vegetable vouchers (the monthly benefits participants get that can be used at the grocery store or market) will no longer be accepted or able to be used at markets. The redemption rate of those benefits at farmers’ markets was low, so it shouldn’t be a big change or affect too many.


Advertise or set up a SNAP clinic in your area!

Signing up for SNAP can be daunting but the Montana Food Bank Network’s SNAP Outreach Coordinator can  help. SNAP Application Clinics are a great way to help multiple people in the community sign up for SNAP by stopping one at central location on a  given day.  If you have a community event or organization in your community that would like to host an on-site SNAP Application Clinic, please call Elizabeth at (406) 215-1752 or email her at eweaver@mfbn.org

From Eastern Montana to the Hi-Line to Western Montana, here are the towns where clinics have been scheduled so far:

  • June 28th – Cut Bank (exact time and location TBD)
  • July 12th – Opportunity Link, Havre, MT, 3pm-6pm
  • July 13th – Chester Senior Center, Chester, MT, 12pm-2pm
  • July 13th – Sagebrush Food Pantry, Shelby, MT, 4pm-6pm
  • July 22nd – Clark Fork Market, Missoula, MT, 8am-12pm

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Step 6: Improve access to healthy, affordable, locally-grown food
– 
Healthy Food 4 All: Innovative programs in the Flathead
– Building Farmers’ Market Success: A Three-year Project

 

Healthy Food 4 All: Innovative programs in the Flathead

It’s June! And farmers’ market season is getting into full swing. Read on to learn about innovative local food access programs happening in the Flathead from Gretchen Boyer, the Double SNAP Dollars Coordinator at Farm Hands-Nourish the Flathead.

What kind of work does Farm Hands – Nourish the Flathead do?
Farm Hands-Nourish the Flathead is a community organization founded by farmers, eaters, business leaders and food system planners from around the Flathead Valley. Our interests include ecologically-sound, socially just, and economically viable ways of growing food and making it accessible to everyone.

Our Food for all programs includes:

  • The Blackfeet – Nourish Project connects community members to work toward a food secure community through FAST Blackfeet.  This project included a bi-monthly food delivery to the Medicine Bear Shelter.
  • Farmers’ Market Food Projects include:
    • School Coins, which gives school age children (450 junior high students and 670 elementary school students), a $5 coin to spend at the local farmers’ markets on fresh, local produce.
    • Senior Coupons provides private donated funds to seniors in the form of coupons to spend at the local farmers’ markets on fresh, local food.
    • Double SNAP Dollars gives $10 each market, each week to SNAP recipients to spend on local, fresh food when they swipe their Montana Access card. With a little extra outreach push last year, participation in this program increased by 100%. It’s a great way to help more people shop at the farmers’ markets and stretch their food dollars at the same time.

What is your biggest challenge in addressing local food access in your area?
Farm Hands – Nourish the Flathead feels that the biggest challenge to addressing local food access is more about income equality and a just food system.  Why is healthy, local food viewed as expensive? Farmers struggle to make a livable wage and eaters struggle to pay for local food.  We need to address the issue of livable wage in this country!

 

Building Farmers’ Market Success: A Three-year Project

NCAT is leading this project, in collaboration with CFAC, AERO and the Department of Agriculture, to implement a market resource network that will provide multiple tiers of capacity building opportunities, including regional conferences, webinars, and a listserv to provide networking, conversation, and learning opportunities for farmers market managers and vendors.

The project also focuses on increasing local food access by providing technical assistance to ensure that SNAP, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition benefits are accepted at most markets. The network will share resources and marketing materials to increase participation of these programs at the markets. TA will also be provided to help more markets implement nutrition incentive programs such as Double SNAP Dollars.

Contact NCAT for more information about this exciting project, funded through the USDA Farmers’ Market Promotion Program.


TIP CORNER: Simple (and fun) ways to enjoy fresh, local food:

Visit one of Montana’s 70 farmers’ markets (there must be one near you!) to shop for the freshest produce available. When thinking of meals, the more colorful, the better! And, think simple. A quick roast in the oven can bring out delicious flavors in our summer and fall root veggies–and you don’t need to add much to make it delicious! Dress up these simple foods with a sprinkle of lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper. Let yourself have fun and enjoy food with loved ones. Thanks for tip, Kati Burton of Missoula Health Department and WIC program!

 

How to navigate your local farmers market.

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  1. Get there early. Beat the crowds and the heat for an efficient farmers market experience. Arriving early will allow you to take your time, ask questions, and getting free samples before they run out!
  2. If you need cash or want to spend your SNAP benefits, stop by the market information booth to swipe your card in exchange for tokens. Remember if you’re using SNAP, you will also receive Double SNAP tokens (at participating markets).
  3. Bring an empty backpack, or reusable bag for all of your groceries. I prefer bringing a backpack so I have free hands for samples.
  4. Ask questions. Vendors are very friendly and accommodating, they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
  5. Take pride in supporting your local farmers and economy! Tell a friend about how much you enjoy the farmers market. Better yet, bring a friend to your next market!
  6. Have fun! The farmers market is a place to get outside, connect with your community, and try new things. Relax, bring a smile and you’ll be just fine!

Attached here is the farmers market directory so you can locate one close to you! FarmMkts_MTDirectory