Butte Farmers Market – Increasing Food Access
Market Days: Saturdays May through October
Mainstreet Uptown Butte manages the market’s day–to–day operations and outreach and is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation incorporated in June 1999 and affiliated with The National Main Street Center and the Montana State Main Street program.
Silver Bow County Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. (SBCDDC) is also a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that manages Dish-Ability, a job– training food truck for people with disabilities. SBCDDC manages the currency for the market through a Square account that accepts debit, credit, SNAP, and Double SNAP cards for the market.
- Farmers’ Market – 1995
- SBCDDC – 1976
Number of Vendors: 25
Partnerships Are the Key to Success of Food-Access Programs
Partnerships have been key to successfully increasing food access and expanding the market’s currency system to include SNAP cards and Double SNAP Dollars (a SNAP incentive program). https://farmersmarketmt.com/food-assistance-programs-2/#double-snap-dollars. While the market is operated by Mainstreet Uptown Butte, the fiscal agent for the SNAP program is Silver Bow County Developmental Disabilities Council (SBCDDC). SBCDDC, through its Dish-Ability program, manages transactions of customers paying with debit, credit, and SNAP cards. The Dish-Ability food truck provides on-the-job culinary training and employment opportunities to people with disabilities. This mission– driven food truck gives back by purchasing local food and participating in local fund raisers. With Dish-Ability as a partner and fiscal sponsor, their clients have job training experience that helps them begin and practice skills that can be transferred to a job. This program is more active in the winter season of the market, but it is available during the market’s summer season, giving the potential for year-round training.
In addition, a $20 Double SNAP Dollars match is given for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. If an individual uses $20 of SNAP at the market, the program offers a maximum match of $20 for fruits and vegetables, to help increase access to nutritious foods while helping to stretch the food dollars for people with SNAP benefits.
The SNAP and Double SNAP Dollars program is coupled with an educational component operated by Butte 4-C’s (a childcare resource and referral program) where they showcase the Montana Harvest of the Month program (Montana Harvest of the Month (mtharvestofthemonth.org). This program highlights the seasonality of specific Montana– grown products and the versatility of the ingredients by having taste tests of various recipes. This not only increases awareness of the availability of seasonal and local foods, but it also provides customers with recipes and guidance on how to prepare the food purchased at the market. Having tasted the recipes first, customers know which dishes they like so that they can replicate those dishes later.
To help with food access, the market has partnered with the Butte Emergency Food Bank. Vendors can donate leftover food to the food bank.
The market operates with two portable card readers, one for debit and credit and the other for SNAP. It is a simple process of swiping an individual’s card and having them input their PIN to pull the necessary funding for immediate utilization of the tokens at the market. It is just like going to the grocery store and using plastic with the cashier, except that at the market, cards are swiped first and then the customer receives tokens to spend at the market. Unused SNAP and Double SNAP tokens do not expire, so they can be used a different week or, in the case of debit and credit tokens, they can be exchanged for cash at the exchange table. For debit and cards, customers can receive cash as change from vendors; however, this is not allowed for SNAP or Double SNAP tokens. The tokens come in $1, $2, $3, and $5 denominations.
Key Takeaways for Implementing SNAP at This Market
- Communication is key. Networking and coordinating with many different stakeholders and individuals from different walks of life requires individuals who are respectful and comfortable with a wide range of people. With this comes a requirement for certain personability and charisma in a champion to spearhead a SNAP program.
- The champion must have a clear understanding of the program, and be able to explain it to others and answer questions competently.
- The purpose of the program must be emphasized, and the champion must bridge the needs of the farmers and the consumers wanting to live healthy lifestyles.
- Additional endorsement and advertising may be needed to ensure the success and viability of a SNAP program at the market. This may include radio commercials, fliers posted around town, and promotional outreach with partner organizations.
- SNAP-Ed (SNAP-Ed Connection | Home (usda.gov))
- National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) (The National Center for Appropriate Technology – Working for a sustainable future since 1976 (ncat.org))
- MSU Extension (SNAP Ed – MSU Extension Silver Bow County | Montana State University)
- Butte 4-C’s (Child Care Resource and Referral | Butte 4-C’s | United States (butte4cs.org))
- Silver Bow County Developmental Disabilities Council Inc, (Developmental Disabilities Council | City and County of Butte-Silver Bow, MT)
- Mainstreet Uptown Butte (Butte Farmers’ Market – Mainstreet Uptown Butte (mainstreetbutte.org))