Article Contributed by
Cornell Cooperative Extension
Every month, more than 44 million people in the U.S. use SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to access nutritious food. While many people use SNAP benefits (EBT card) to purchase foods that are readily consumed, such as bread, milk, or apples, SNAP (EBT card) can also be used to buy seeds and plants that produce edible items. All SNAP retailers, including Farmers’ Markets, are authorized to sell seeds and plants to SNAP participants.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, for every dollar that is invested in seeds and fertilizer, home gardeners can grow an average of $25 worth of produce. SNAP participants that are able to grow their own food from seeds and plants allows SNAP benefits to last longer and stretch farther, and makes it possible for people to buy food products that normally would not be affordable.
Many people may be hesitant to take advantage of seed and plant benefits, but there are many resources available for, and advantages to, growing your own food. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County’s Master Gardeners can provide educational assistance to new and seasoned gardeners. There are also several tips and ideas listed on SNAP’s website, www.fns.usda.gov/snap. Gardening can be a great summer activity to bring communities and families closer together, and is a great way to promote nutrition and to have pride in eating homegrown products.
Support to food producers and community groups interested in using SNAP benefits for seed and plant purchases is one of many initiatives offered by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chautauqua County (CCE-Chautauqua) in conjunction with Creating Health Places and aligns with Chautauqua County’s 20/20 Comprehensive Plan. CCE-Chautauqua is a community based educational organization, affiliated with Cornell University, Chautauqua County Government, the NYS SUNY system, and the federal government through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, call 716-664-9502 or visit our website at www.cce.cornell.edu/chautauqua. Cornell University Cooperative Extension provides equal program and employment opportunities.