The Double SNAP Dollars program helps families on SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as food stamps) afford more healthy and local foods by providing a dollar-for-dollar match on their SNAP purchases (up to a limit of $10 or $20 a day). For instance, when SNAP customers spend their benefits at participating locations they earn Double SNAP Dollars that can be spent on any fresh fruits or vegetables.
For information on how to use Double SNAP Dollars, please visit the DoubleDollarsMT.com website, or click the links below to learn more. And don't forget to like us on Facebook for tips and recipes for cooking fresh produce!
The Double SNAP Dollars program fills two important needs in our local food system - ensuring that all community members, regardless of income, have the opportunity to access healthy food and that all farmers, ranchers, and local businesses receive fair compensation for their labor and investment.
We've heard from many limited income community members that they would prefer to have a healthier diet; however, high housing and other living costs adversely affect their food budgets. The higher cost of healthy, fresh food options, compared with processed food alternatives, is the number one barrier to improving their diet.
At the same time, operating a farm is hard work, especially in Montana where towns are small and distances are great. Getting enough of a farmers' product to the people who want them can be difficult.
The Double SNAP Dollars program aims to bridge this gap by providing resources to help community members afford more of the nutritious foods they want to buy while increasing sales for our local farmers. In doing so, it also brings economic value to our community. Every $5 of SNAP benefits spent generates as much as $9 of economic activity (USDA ERS).
Double SNAP Dollars was first piloted in 2015 in collaboration with the North Missoula Community Development Corporation and Missoula Community Food Cooperative, Clark Fork Market, Missoula Farmers’ Market, and Western Montana Growers’ Cooperative. During the pilot year, over $17,000 worth of SNAP benefits were matched at these four participating locations. The Double SNAP Dollars program, now funded in part by the United States Department of Agriculture, will continue to match SNAP purchases for fruits and vegetables through a combination of public and private funds.
SNAP customers simply shop at a participating location using their SNAP benefits. Details vary slightly according to location, but all locations provide the Double SNAP Dollar match once the customer's EBT card is swiped. For more details, visit the DoubleDollarsMT website.
The following locations throughout Western Montana offer Double SNAP Dollars:
Columbia Falls Community Market
Operates Thursdays, 5pm - 7:30pm, starting May 19, 2016
Located at "The Locals' Market", 830 1st Ave W
Clark Fork River Market
Operates May-October. Saturdays, 8am-1pm
Located under the Higgins Bridge, just east of Caras Park in downtown Missoula
Missoula Farmers' Market
Operates Saturdays, May-October, 8am-12:30pm; Tuesdays, July-September, 5:30pm-7pm
Located in Circle Square (at the north end of Higgins Avenue - by the XXX's)
Missoula Community Food Cooperative
Open year-round. Mon-Fri 10am-8pm. Sat-Sun 10am-5:30pm
1500 Burns St, Missoula 59802
Western Montana Growers Cooperative
Operates year-round. Delivers fresh local produce from June – December to the Missoula, Mission, and Bitterroot valleys, Butte, and Helena
Located behind the Missoula Community Food Co-op at 1500 Burns St, Missoula 59802
Polson Farmers' Market
Operates Fridays, 9am - 1pm, starting May 6, 2016
Located at 3rd Avenue W, in front of the Cove Deli
Whitefish Farmers' Market
Operates Tuesdays, 5pm - 7:30pm, starting May 24, 2016
Located at the North end of Central Avenue
There are other farmers' markets in Montana that offer a match on SNAP benefits so if you are travelling be sure to check them out!
Healthy By Design Gardeners Market
Gallatin Valley Farmers Market
Hamilton Farmers Market Co-op
River Valley Farmers Market
Red Lodge Farmers Market
The Double SNAP Dollars program is truly a collaborative effort to improve food access throughout Western Montana. In addition to the four locations in Missoula that are currently offering Double SNAP dollars, CFAC has partnered with other organizations to bring Double SNAP Dollars and educational materials to the Mission Valley. All of this is possible through the USDA Community Food Projects (CFP) and Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant programs.
Our other partners include:
The North Missoula Community Development Corporation (NMCDC). NMCDC administers Double SNAP Dollars at the Missoula Community Food Co-op as well as coordinates monthly cooking and nutrition workshops, known as Real Meals, to help families gain skills and knowledge that will help them get more nutritional bang for their buck. These workshops are a valuable tool that low-income families can take advantage of to help them feel more comfortable cooking fresh fruits and vegetables – or just give them new ideas to take home! NMCDC will be further developing the Real Meals curriculum to focus on fruits and vegetables that SNAP recipients can access locally and will share the curriculum with other organizations so similar workshops can be held in other communities.
Lake County Community Development Corporation (LCCDC). Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center (MMFEC), a division of LCCDC, is a food and agricultural development center that assists farmers and food businesses in the region. MMFEC will be expanding the Double SNAP Dollars program at the Polson Farmers’ Market and other grocery stores in Lake County.
Farm Hands-Nourish the Flathead. Farm Hands supports ecologically-sound, socially-just, and economically-viable methods of growing and distributing food. They will be expanding the Double SNAP Dollars program at the Whitefish Farmers’ Market and Columbia Falls Community Market.
Double SNAP Street Team. The street team is a group of dedicated Double SNAP Dollars customers who help spread the word and explain the program to their peers and communities and provide valuable program feedback.
We are also a member of Wholesome Wave's National Nutrition Incentive Network.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - or SNAP - was formerly known as the federal Food Stamp Program. This program helps low income people buy the food they need to be healthy by offering food and nutrition assistance. SNAP benefits are provided through an EBT card, much like a debit card.
To apply for SNAP benefits or to see if you are eligible, click here to visit the Montana Department of Health and Human Services website or call the Montana Public Assistance Helpline: 1-888-706-1535. Or you can skip a trip to the Office of Public Assistance and call the Montana Food Bank Network to start an application: 406.239.6475
If you are a farmer, farmers' market manager, or retail food outlet you can apply to become a SNAP authorized vendor, which would allow you to accept EBT card payments so low income community members can buy your produce. Click here to visit the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website to start the application process.
If you are a farmer or farmers' market manager, you can also apply for free EBT equipment through the national Farmers' Market Coalition. Click here to visit their website for more information.
To learn more about accepting SNAP benefits at your farmers' market, download this publication, "How to Accept SNAP Cards at your Farmers' Market."
There are many ways to get involved with the Double SNAP Dollars program and help improve food access in our region.
- Donate! Invest in our community, our food system, and our local economy by contributing to the Double SNAP Dollars program. Donate here and add to the comments box that you would like your donation to go to the Double SNAP Dollars program.
Stay tuned for more information as Double SNAP Dollars continues to be developed. In the meantime, if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us!
Food Access Program Manager
This work is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, the United Way of Missoula County, and many others in the Missoula Community. Thank you!