Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is the name of the Food Stamps program administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service. This program covers individuals and families; children and seniors; disabled, unemployed, and those working for low wages. There are eligibility guidelines for receiving benefits–see My Maine Connection for a free pre-screening.
When food stamps transitioned from paper vouchers to EBT cards (electronic benefits transfer), SNAP recipients were unintentionally excluded from more informal EBT marketplaces like farmers’ markets because there was no way to swipe their cards. Currently, less than .01% of SNAP benefits are redeemed at farmers’ markets in Maine — but this number is rising. By building the infrastructure to process EBT transactions at farm stands and farmers’ markets (i.e. providing a wireless terminal, a staffed market booth, and alternative currency like wooden nickels), we’re creating a more inclusive food system — where SNAP recipients can use their benefits to purchase healthy local food, and where federal dollars can be reinvested in the local economy.
We’re able to double the value of all SNAP benefits at our farm stands and our low-income CSA program through participation in the Maine Harvest Bucks program. That means twice the amount of healthy food will go home with those who have the most limited food budgets and who are at the highest risk for developing diet-related illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC) is another federal nutrition assistance program that provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. Click here for eligibility guidelines.