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New Program Makes SNAP/EBT Processing Equipment Available to Farmers and Farmers' Markets at No Cost

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefits Transfer card (EBT) equipment is available to agricultural producers and farmers' markets in Maine. Interested producers and farmers markets should visit the Farm Food Access Program (FFAP) website or call the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets (MFFM) to learn about the options for cost-free equipment. By accepting SNAP/EBT, producers and farmers markets help feed approximately one in eight Mainers participating in the SNAP Program.

The FFAP, developed by the Maine Bureau of Agriculture, Maine Department of Health and Human Services, and MFFM, launched in 2020 to provide more opportunities for individuals and families to purchase local foods with their federal SNAP benefits. FFAP positively benefits Maine's economy by increasing the number of farms and farmers' markets in Maine accepting SNAP benefits. More than $200 million in SNAP food dollars is spent each year by families, seniors, and income-eligible individuals in Maine. Programs such as FFAP enable more farm businesses to participate, increasing the number of sites at which Mainers can use their SNAP benefits.

To date, FFAP has helped more than 30 producers and farmers' markets acquire equipment and accept SNAP transactions. "Our neighbors were so excited that they could keep their SNAP dollars local and support our farm," says Cynthia Turcotte, owner of Applewald Farm. Based in Litchfield, ME, Applewald Farm is one of the many farm stands in the program.

MFFM reports that over $250,000 in federal SNAP benefits were spent with local farms in 2020. MFFM provides additional consultation to interested applicants to attracting new customers using SNAP to their markets and farm stands. "Due to the pandemic, we saw record numbers of SNAP sales being spent on local food. People preferred to shop in less crowded and open-air places, when possible," says Jimmy DeBiasi, the Director of Programs at MFFM. "The timing of FFAP has been remarkable, as it offered people who shop with SNAP new places to access fresh, local, and healthy food in safe environments."


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