Originally published in Sequim Gazette

At Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market, we believe everyone should be able to access healthy, sustainably sourced food.  

As we celebrate National Farmers’ Week by thanking and acknowledging our vendors, we’re reminded that local farmers markets are more than just shopping hubs–they are centers of education, employment, and food access. Staff, board, vendors, and community members alike are dedicated to ensuring that everyone in our community can access locally-produced food.

Currently, we facilitate three publicly-funded programs alongside the Grow Your Market Match with Sound Community Bank, a privately-funded, community-led initiative. These programs include SNAP Market Match, the Women Infants and Children (WIC) program, and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). The goal of these programs is to make it easier for individuals and families, regardless of budget size, to shop at our market and have access to fresh, locally-grown food.

The need for food access in our community is substantial. According to the 2020 census data, approximately 1 in every 5 people in Clallam County receives benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), with as much as ⅓ of residents being eligible for the program. 

However, despite increased demand, federal budget cuts have impacted the SNAP program. In April 2020, Congress approved the expansion of SNAP benefits for all recipients. Unfortunately, emergency funding ended in February this year, resulting in cuts to SNAP benefits for users across the country, at a time when food prices have soared. Community programs that continue to assist with food security have become even more vital in supporting those in need.

The SNAP Market Match program, administered by the Washington State Department of Health and funded by a USDA grant, is a lifeline for many individuals and families in our community. Approximately 100 farmers markets in Washington participate, including SFAM, to allow recipients of SNAP/EBT (formerly known as food stamps) to use their benefits at the farmers market to purchase fresh food. 

At the Market Information booth, our staff assists SNAP/EBT users to redeem their benefits in market currency, similar to a conventional grocery store. Through the SNAP Market Match, shoppers receive an additional $1 in market currency for every $1 dollar of SNAP/EBT redeemed, up to $25. 

Thanks to the Grow Your Market Match with Sound Community Bank, SNAP/EBT receipts can also receive an additional $15 on top of their SNAP Market Match. Our partnership with Sound Community Bank comes at a critical time, allowing us to continue providing additional funds to low-income shoppers despite federal cuts to the SNAP program. This not only helps low-income shoppers access more fresh produce but also supports local farmers enabling them to sell their produce at fair prices directly to consumers, circulating money in the local economy.

In essence, SNAP/EBT recipients who redeem their SNAP/EBT benefits at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market will receive up to an additional $40 in market currency on top of their regular benefits.

We also extend our support to WIC (Women, Infants, and Children)/Senior recipients in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). The FMNP program has made a huge transition to an electronic card system this year. FMNP users can now use their electronic benefits to shop directly with growers participating in the program.

We provide a one-time, $40 Grow Your Market Match with Sound Community Bank to Senior & WIC FMNP recipients. By presenting their benefits card at the Market Info booth, FMNP recipients can redeem their match. Additionally, our market staff will assist FMNP shoppers navigate the new system at our Market.

As we celebrate National Farmers’ Week, Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market expresses gratitude for the support of our community, vendors, and partners, which allows us to continue these vital food access programs. We remain steadfast in our commitment to creating a healthier, more equitable food system for everyone in our community.