The Butte Farmers Market joins markets across the state in reinstating its SNAP and Double SNAP Dollars Program in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Beginning June 20, customers again will be able to use SNAP benefits at The Butte Farmers Market. For the second year, the market also will be participating in the SNAP Match Program, Double SNAP Dollars (DSD). When a customer uses their SNAP card at the market, they will receive a matched amount of DSD that they can then use to purchase additional fruits and vegetables.
As of the beginning of the 2020 farmers market season, Double SNAP Dollars is being offered at 26 sites across Montana: 22 farmers markets, two CSAs, one farm stand, and one grocery store. Since the DSD program began in 2015, over 6,000 customers have been served, leading to increased fresh fruit and vegetable consumption. During that time, $440,000 has been spent through the DSD program on local foods, boosting Montana farmers’ income.
When the COVID 19 pandemic arose, Montana food businesses faced many restrictions as part of Governor Steve Bullock’s shelter-in-place orders. Farmers markets across Montana were uncertain if they would be allowed to open this season.
With advocacy and guidance from The Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition, the Governor’s Office deemed farmers markets as essential businesses because they provide much needed staple grocery items and agricultural products to consumers. Also, many farmers markets across the state accept SNAP, allowing low-income customers access to healthy, locally grown food.
With the essential businesses designation for farmers markets, Silver Bow Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. (SBDDC), the non-profit that sponsors the Butte Farmers Market DSD program, began planning how to safely administer SNAP and DSD to comply with increased sanitation and social distancing requirements.
Courtney Nucito, the Butte Farmers Market DSD SNAP coordinator employed by SBDDC, outlined how the SNAP/DSD customers will use their benefits at the market:
• Customers will need to go to the SNAP table, located at Park and Dakota, near one end of the market where the SNAP coordinator, wearing a face mask and gloves will process the customer’s EBT card in exchange for their SNAP and DSD tokens to purchase foods at the market.
• This year, we will match up to $10 in Double SNAP tokens.
• Each SNAP-eligible vendor will have a plastic cup located at their booth.
• After customers make their selections with individual vendors, the customers will place their tokens in the plastic cups, to minimize physical contact between the customer and vendor.
• Tokens will be sanitized before and after distribution.
• In addition to SNAP, we also accept Debit/ Credit cards to be exchanged for tokens in five dollar increments to be used at the market. For more information and resources, visit our Facebook page, @dsdbfm
There are more than 70 farmers markets in Montana, according to the Montana Department of Agriculture, and many are opening with social distancing and increased sanitation practices in place.
To find a Farmers Market near you visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory.
The National Center for Appropriate Technology is a national not for profit based in Butte, MT. They are working to help build farmers market capacity in Montana and increase low income local food access through helping farmers markets become authorized to accept SNAP. For more information on NCAT see www.ncat.org.