Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Greening - Clarifying Using "Food Stamps" for Plants

Dear Folks,

In my eagerness to get the word out on those qualifying for the food stamp program -- now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - SNAP (which is administered by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service) -- I may have confused you readers about who and what qualifies for the programs.

I was trying to keep all the abbreviations to a minimum but unfortunately some important distinctions got lost.

The SNAP recipients are given a debit-type card now a-days instead of the old coupons, and the card is an EBT (electronic benefit transfer) which can be used through participating farmers markets, vendors and retailers who accept them. This card can be used to purchase qualifying food, food plants and seeds to grown food plants.

All farmers markets, vendors and retailers (including plant nurseries) who want to accept SNAP have to apply to the program to be able to accept the EBT card (with modern POS systems the "button" for EBT may be on the system but this does not mean it is "activated" - the retailer has to be admitted to the SNAP program by the administering agency).

WIC (Women, Infants and Children) coupons DO NOT qualify to purchase food plants or seeds for food Plants. A program for Seniors called Food Plus, is similar in scope. WIC and Food Plus recipients can purchase locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables at farmers markets in Arizona under the AzDES administered Farmers Market Nutrition Program - FMNP.

Recipients of FMNP may also qualify for the SNAP. Because of the nature of the various support programs, recipients of one program may qualify for other programs based on income and need.

More information on programs and who qualifies is here: This is a site run by Arizona Community Action Association and these folks can help as they work closely with AzDES.

This page on the USDA site has eligible and non-eligible products.

My special thanks to Cindy Gentry of Food Connection for helping me get the correct information into your hands.

And a few final words in support of these programs -- I can't help but think that anyone who can garden achieves benefits too numerous to count, so any assistance that can be lent by the community or a municipality is a support OF and FOR the community, not just the individual recipients - be sure to click on the Food Connection link and read the whole home page - I think it says a lot.

Have a great day,

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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