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Expanding Farmers Markets Access

Thriving farmers markets have the capacity to serve as both vital direct-to-consumer market channels for small to mid-scale producers as well as invaluable community centers for local consumers. RAFI-USA supports farmers markets and other local food marketplaces that want to see all community members welcomed and regular shoppers at the market. RAFI-USA’s food access support covers anything from targeted EBT incentive programming to broader capacity building for market managers. Read below for an overview of RAFI-USA’s programs, publications, and resources for local food producers and farmers markets.

Fresh Bucks Incentives Program

RAFI-USA coordinates the Fresh Bucks Incentive Program at 12 North Carolina farmers markets. This program matches SNAP/EBT shoppers’ purchases dollar-for-dollar, effectively doubling the buying power of food-insecure households. Fresh Bucks also benefits local food producers through increased sales. For more information about the Fresh Bucks Incentive Program, click here.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Triangle & Rural Farmers Market Double Dollars Incentive Program

RAFI-USA also coordinates a Double Bucks incentive program at six Triangle-area markets and five rural farmers markets starting in 2020. This incentive program is broader than Fresh Bucks by matching SNAP and WIC FMNP purchases as well as cash purchases from WIC clients, people living in Section 8 housing, and SNAP recipients. This three-year project will increase food access for low-income consumers in Durham, Orange, and rural counties across NC. For more information about the Triangle and Rural Farmers Market Double Dollars Incentive Program, click here.

Farmers Market Technical Assistance

RAFI-USA is available to help markets assess other strategies to help increase food access for customers. Contact Angel ([email protected]) for technical assistance on:

  • Accepting SNAP/EBT at the farmers market
  • POS terminal equipment options
  • Building up market capacity
  • Brainstorm fundraising and sponsorship options for incentive programs or other food access strategies

Alternative Local Food Market

RAFI-USA’s Alternative Local Food Markets program works to develop, coordinate, and expand direct producer-to-consumer markets that make locally produced foods more available and accessible and support farmers and food entrepreneurs of color. Through this program, RAFI-USA provides support and resources to farmers, farmers markets, faith communities, and other food cooperatives who are finding creative ways to increase both farm viability and food access in their communities. For more information about the Alternative Local Food Markets program, click here.

Guide to SNAP/EBT for NC Farmers Markets

RAFI-USA published a Guide to SNAP/EBT for NC Farmers Markets in 2018. This guide is for farmers market organizers, public health professionals, and food justice advocates who want to learn how farmers markets can accept SNAP/EBT benefits. The guide includes an overview of SNAP/EBT in North Carolina and how to implement a successful SNAP/EBT program at farmers markets, case studies of current NC farmers markets with SNAP/EBT programs, and supplemental resources and templates. Click here to view the Guide.

Other Farmers Market Resources

North Carolina Farmers Market Networking

Market Manager Networking Calls – there is a call hosted every first Thursday of the month for North Carolina farmers market managers to gather and discuss emergent issues, best practices, and to access professional development opportunities. To receive notices for upcoming meetings, contact [email protected]

North Carolina Farmers Market Manager Listserv – to facilitate communication among farmers, farmers market managers, support personnel and institutions, governmental and NGO staff, and others interested in furthering farmers markets in the state of North Carolina. To subscribe to the listserv, contact [email protected]

Farmers Market Coalition Networking & Resources

Farmers Market Coalition represents 3,500 markets and maintains an active listserv of more than 1,000 subscribers. The listserv facilitates peer-to-peer exchange of market management best practices, funding opportunities, and regulatory changes. To subscribe visit FMC’s website.

FMC also manages an extensive library of resources, webinars, guides, and templates for farmers markets. Click here to view available resources.

Farmers Market Manager Training

Farmers market managers play an invaluable role in the success of a farmers market. And although they oversee many important aspects of market operations, they often receive very little training on how to perform their job. New York Farmers Market Federation compiled an extensive training guide to help new market managers understand their role and how to excel as a manager. Click here to access the guide.

Farmers Market Coalition has developed the Anti-Racist Farmers Market Toolkit to help offer ways for managers to put the concepts of anti-racism into practice and action within farmers markets. The work is intended to improve market experiences for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), and BIPOC communities. Click here to access the guide.

USDA Farmers Market & Local Food Funding Opportunities

Farmers Market Promotion Program – to assist in the development, improvement, and expansion of domestic direct-to-consumer outlets like farmers markets, community-supported agriculture (CSAs), roadside stands, agritourism, internet sales, and other forms of direct marketing.

Local Food Promotion Program – to assist in the development, improvement, or expansion of local and regional food business enterprises.

Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program – to nonprofit organizations and government agencies for projects that increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers by providing “cash” incentives at the point of purchase.

Community Food Projects – to help eligible nonprofits, tribal organizations, and food program service providers in need of a one-time infusion of federal assistance for projects that promote self-sufficiency and food security, address specific needs and provide comprehensive, community-based solutions in low-income communities.


Staff Members & Contact Information

Lisa Misch, Director of Farmer Outreach and Technical Assistance, [email protected], 919.270.8100

Angel Woodrum, Program Coordinator, [email protected], 984.214.2057