Howdy all! I participated today in a virtual tour of an online set up for farmers markets in northeast Iowa. The customers order and pay online, the group aggregates from the various producers and delivers at the farmers markets. The system is convenient for lots of shoppers and seems to work best for non-weekend markets when customers are more in a hurry. It’s a new project and the folks in Iowa are learning a lot and they’re happy to share. Check them out and be sure to tell them Texas Local Food sent you at Curbside Markets!
The Texas Center for Local Food team joined our peers at the Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association conference in Georgetown, TX. We hosted the 1st annual Texas Network of Farmers Markets Meet Up, led 4 TXFED.org sessions in person, facilitated a Farmers Discussing Farmers Market panel, and distributed information at our booth. It was a great experience to meet with our current collaborators, network with potential partners, and better understand the needs of food producers and market organizers we serve. Our time at the conference has further motivated our mission to create more market opportunities for local food producers & offer technical support to increase the exchange of food & money within Texas.
ELGIN, TEXAS – The Texas Center for Local Food today announced a new project to promote the use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets in Texas.
SNAP benefit recipients can use their SNAP cards to buy fresh, local food at farmers markets. But many recipients don’t know that – and farmers markets face multiple hurdles to accepting SNAP.
In FY2020, Texas ranked 47th out of the 50 US states in SNAP sales at farmers markets.“Farmers markets are a critical link in the local food system, and lower-income families have access to fresh, local food — but too many don’t know it — yet!” said Sue Beckwith, Executive Director of the Texas Center for Local Food. will get more Texas-grown, farm fresh produce onto SNAP recipients’ tables.”
Promotion alone won’t increase sales to SNAP recipients. Farmers markets also need help setting up and using the equipment for SNAP processing. “The equipment required to process SNAP is different from normal card processing equipment. It requires its own setup and specialized training,” said Susie Marshall, Executive Director of Grow North Texas, a SNAP-ED project partner. “We provide technical assistance to help farmers markets adopt and use the equipment.”
Digital images are free for non-commercial, non-profit use. They are provided by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The 1-year grant of $439,951 is awarded and administered by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission using funds allocated to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service as part of the Farm Bill.
Another hurdle for farmers markets accepting SNAP are the costs of the equipment and processing. The Texas Center for Local Food also works to help farmers markets offset farmers markets costs not paid for by this grant costs using funds contributed by TCLF members. To become a member, or find out how to participate, please visit TexasLocalFood.org/Join-Us
The Texas Center for Local Food, based in Elgin, Texas, was created in 2016 by small farmers and ranchers to strengthen the economic viability of Texas communities and family farms through making the local food system economically stronger. For more information, visit TexasLocalFood.org or contact Sue Beckwith at sueb@TexasLocalFood.org.
Data Points & Sources
Based on FY 2020 & FY 2019:
On average 12.4% of Texans receive SNAP every month (1.6 million families)
Each month over $400 million dollars in SNAP payments are made in Texas.
The precentage of SNAP benefits redeemed at farmers’ markets is almost 0 (0.003%), ranking Texas 47th in the country.
Family purchases food at a local farmers market. Credit (not required): Photo courtesy USDA SNAP-ED. Digital images are free for non-commercial, non-profit use. They are provided by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Hello food system folks! Do people tell you that you’re pleasant to work with, competent, and a dedicated worker? If so, then one (1) of our four (4) open positions in Texas may be a good match for you. All are full-time. Please share with others too!
We have three (3) positions to support farmers markets across Texas to increase sales of Texas-grown fruits and vegetables to SNAP shoppers. These farmers market support positions are all remote and will require travel within Texas. Texas residents and those willing to relocate to Texas are preferred; (no relocation costs are paid.)
We have one (1) Education Specialist position to lead the Farm-to-Kids Texas after school program in Elgin, TX and support online course development for adult learners with TXFED.org. This position requires in person work in Elgin, TX and travel within central TX.
These resources were kindly provided by the SNAP education staff at the Texas Department of Health & Human Services. We are grateful for their work.
All farmers markets and direct-marketing farmers must be SNAP certified through USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) before they can accept SNAP at their markets and/or to apply for the SNAP EBT equipment grant. If a market needs to apply for certification, please have them apply with FNS online at https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/sites/default/files/snap/SNAP-application-educational-notice.pdf or by calling 1-877-823-4369 and requesting a paper application. Once FNS receives a correct and completed application, it can take up to a week for FNS to process the application. FNS will contact the market directly once approved. After approval is received, the market can submit the SNAP EBT Equipment Request Form.
There is an opportunity receive free wireless EBT equipment through September 30, 2021 or as funds are available. Funds are currently still available. See attached flyer for grant information. Applicants must be certified by the FNS to accept SNAP and submit a completed Equipment Request Form. This form contains an “intent” statement so by signing the form, the market is agreeing to the program requirements; no other letter of intent is needed. If you have any questions about this grant, email EBTRetailerOps@hhsc.state.tx.us.
From our friends at The Counter, this excellent overview of the history of Black farmers and current actions to dismantle racism in our food system.
Farmers market managers take note and count on us at the Texas Center for Local Food to support your shift to a more diverse customer base. “… the recent movement in the U.S. to promote healthier and more sustainable eating by supporting local farmers’ markets among other things was overwhelmingly white. So though there has been a boom in farmers’ markets in recent years — they grew by 76% from 2008 to 2014, and another 6% since then, according to the USDA — they typically serve affluent white populations and too often have erected barriers that discourage farmers and other vendors of color.“
In 2019, Farmers Market Managers operated 8,140 farmers markets.
The largest number of markets operated during June through September. The month of July was the highest month of operation, followed closely by August, with 71.9 percent and 71.8 percent, respectively. Twenty-one percent of the markets operated year round.
At 52.4 percent, Saturday was the most common day of operation.
Fruits and vegetables composed the most common food category sold at 99.6 percent of markets, followed by Condiments and sauce at 94.1 percent.
The percent of markets that had locally grown labeling totaled nearly 84.7 percent. Gluten free and Grass-fed had 46.1 percent and 46.0 percent, respectively.
Of the 4,076 markets that accepted Federal Nutrition Programs, 78.7 percent accepted Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Of the 4,352 vendors/producers who accepted Federal Nutrition Programs, 66.7 percent accepted Women, Infants and Children’s (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), followed closely by Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) at 66.3 percent.
On an average market day, 916 households shopped across markets in the U.S. and spent $14,547 per farmers market.
Farmers Market Managers served as paid employees in 4,321 markets, while in 3,162 they served as volunteers. On average, the paid Farmers Market Mangers earned $18.40 per hour. Managers worked an average of 19.4 hours per week.
There were 31,609 volunteers contributing their time across 5,078 markets.