Midland Area Farmers Market Sees Large Increase in SNAP/EBT Usage

Midland, Michigan – So far throughout its 2020 season, the Midland Area Farmers Market has seen a large increase in usage of funds from food assistance programs such as SNAP/EBT and Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB).

“We are thrilled to see the usage of these programs increasing,” said Emily Lyons, Farmers Market Manager. “This shows that the Market is giving residents of all income levels access to fresh produce while supporting our local farmers. It’s exactly why the Farmers Market is such an important part of our community.”

The number of SNAP/EBT funds distributed in May of 2020 was $3,266, more than triple the $955 of May 2019. June 2020 saw a similar increase: $4,104 versus $1734 in June 2019. The number of new SNAP/EBT users at Market also increased: 36 in May 2020 versus 9 in May 2019; 32 in June 2020 versus 18 in June 2019.

What is SNAP, EBT and DUFB?

The goal of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly referred to as food stamps, is to help those with low incomes maintain a healthy diet by making relatively expensive items like fresh fruits and vegetables more attainable. In Michigan, those funds are distributed to recipients on an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, also known as the Bridge Card.

Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) makes SNAP funds go even further by giving shoppers extra dollars to spend on Michigan-grown produce when using a Bridge card. For every $1 spent on fruits and vegetables, DUFB gives users $1 free. This year, there is no daily limit on DUFB.

DUFB usage has also increased in the 2020 season:

  • May 2020: $3,264 versus May 2019 $880
  • June 2020: $4,102 versus June 2019 $1,650

Having a strong local bank partner in Isabella Bank allows the Market to offer a wide variety of payment options, including: Cash, check, EBT (for tokens), credit or debit (for tokens), Double Up Food Bucks (tokens), WIC Project FRESH (coupon) and Senior Project FRESH (coupon).

“Partnering with Isabella Bank makes it easier for everyone to shop at the Farmers Market,” Lyons said. “Whether you simply forgot cash and get tokens with your credit card or can utilize the DUFB and Project FRESH Programs to get even more fresh produce for your family.”

Importance of a Resilient Market

This uptick in usage solidifies the importance finding a way to be open through a challenging season that has forced the Market to adapt to COVID-19 safety requirements and flooding of its usual location. The Market is currently operating as a walking market at the Dow Diamond East Parking Lot during its regular hours: 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

“Finding a way for the Midland Area Farmers Market to be open through many different challenges is not only good for our vendors and community, but also boosts our local economy and keeps these funds local,” Lyons said.