USDA Awards New Funding for Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) Program

November 10, 2020 – The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced a $27.9M investment toward encouraging low-income families to purchase healthy food this week. The Missoula-based Community Food and Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) is one of 30 organizations nationwide to receive this funding. CFAC will receive $500,000, given through the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), to expand equity and food access through the statewide Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) program that CFAC has been administering since 2015. Each dollar will be matched by 1:1, resulting in a total of $1M toward the program over the next four years.

Since 2015, the DSD program has served over 6,400 customers, leading to increased fresh fruit and vegetable consumption by SNAP customers. During that time, $500,000 has been spent through the DSD program on local foods, boosting Montana farmers’ income.

The Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) program doubles individual’s SNAP benefits for fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. For every $1 spent with a SNAP benefit card on fruits and vegetables, customers are matched another dollar $1 free in fruits and vegetables with DSD.

Currently DSD is being offered at 26 sites across Montana: 22 farmers markets, two CSAs, one farm stand, and one grocery store. Three farmers markets in Missoula, Bozeman and Hamilton and Camas Organic Market in Hot Springs will offer DSD this winter. This new funding will focus on sustaining the DSD network through 2024 and will bolster opportunities for pilot programs in rural and Native communities in addition to several retail grocery locations. Sites will be equitably distributed across the state, creating more and easier access points to extra fruits and vegetables and generating more income for Montana’s local farmers year-round.

“Nutrition incentives are a win-win for everyone involved.” Ian Finch, the food access programs manager at the Coalition, explained. “They’re a win for low income families who can access more nutritious food, a win for local businesses and a win for our local farmers who are able to sell more produce to more members of the local community.”

CFAC established the Double SNAP Dollars Network, a statewide coalition of 12 organizations, that helps to set the priorities and direction of the DSD program each year. The Network includes National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), Farm Hands – Nourish the Flathead, Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, Montana Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Tribal Health Department, Rural Dynamics, Inc., Montana Food Bank Network, MSU Extension Nutrition Education Program, Hi-Line Kitchen Processing and Garden Center, Fort Peck Community College Wellness Center, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Kalispell Regional Healthcare, and Open and Local.

The GusNIP funding is incredibly helpful in Montana, yet the need for additional food assistance programs is growing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Double SNAP Dollars Network is working to encourage additional investment from Montana State Legislature to fund expansion into more farmer’s markets and retail spaces. The Network will work with lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session to advance this goal and get nutritious food into more Montana SNAP households.

To do this, “We have initiated consultation with tribal members of Blackfeet Nation, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Reservation, and the Fort Belknap Indian Community, to explore objectives and discuss food sovereignty efforts already in motion among Native communities in Montana,” said Lauren Tobias, Wellness Director at Fort Peck Community College and DSD Network member. “We aspire to connect in a similar fashion with each tribe within Montana’s borders. Excitingly, we have just formalized a partnership between CFAC and Fort Peck Community College’s Good Health & Wellness in Indian Country program, a 5-year CDC grant-funded initiative. To kick off this partnership, we are preparing to hire a team of local food-systems leaders on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, to examine together how the DSD Network can most appropriately stand with the ongoing efforts of the Fort Peck Tribes to self-govern their local food systems, while also supporting immediate access to healthy food and food security.”

CFAC will start work immediately identifying new rural and Native communities in Montana to work with and retail locations, farmers markets and other business owners to establish new Double SNAP Dollar (DSD) locations across the state.

Food programs support Montana farmers and strengthen local food systems

As the COVID-19 pandemic leads our nation into the deepest economic contraction since 1947, people are left wondering how to put food on the table while 50 million jobs were lost and the price of consumer goods continues to rise. With the loss of income and the uncertainty of the future, people are turning to food pantries to make ends meet, with local food banks serving record numbers of households, and reports across the nation of people waiting in their cars for hours to pick up their food distributions.

To make matters worse, the pandemic is exposing structural inequities within the food system, where corporately owned, centralized food supply chains are unable to deliver healthy food options to food insecure families during a time of crisis. Farmers of all kinds lost restaurant and wholesale accounts, and opportunities to sell directly to consumers came into question as communities grappled with the best ways to keep people safe, while ensuring access to food and protecting local economies. Suddenly, everyone in the food system, from field to fork, needed to adjust, respond and turn chaos into opportunity.

Fortunately, Montana’s farmers market season is going strong, providing a critical source of revenue for Montana farmers and connecting residents to fresh, local foods. At the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition, we work to ensure that all Montanans have access to local food, coordinating the Double SNAP Dollars program and supporting the development of new markets across the state.

This summer, we are excited that families have the opportunity to shop at farmers markets with Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) food benefits. P-EBT is a one-time benefit available to families who lost access to free and reduced-price meals during COVID-related school closures last year. Families will receive $330 per eligible child on an EBT card that can be used to purchase food anywhere SNAP benefits are accepted — including many Montana farmers markets.

What’s more, P-EBT also qualifies for Double SNAP Dollars, allowing families to further leverage their dollars to help our local farmers. CFAC’s Double SNAP Dollars Program (DSD) matches SNAP and P-EBT benefits, dollar for dollar, up to $20 per day, at participating farmers markets across the state. Since inception in 2015, the DSD Program now serves nearly 6,000 Montanans and has recirculated over $450,000 to our local farmers, ranchers, and farmers markets. The best thing about the program is that there is no application. When a SNAP customer or P-EBT family visits a farmers market, all they need to do is visit the market booth, swipe their EBT card, and ask for the DSD match.

This program is slick because farmers markets are the backbone of the local food economy. In times of food insecurity, the nation’s 9,000 farmers markets provide producers and consumers a direct market channel to ensure that people get fed. When paired with SNAP and P-EBT, farmer’s markets can function as an even greater economic stimulus for local food producers.

In Montana alone, the 10% of our population that participates in SNAP receives around $12 million per month in food benefits, and this number is growing with P-EBT. Matched by Double SNAP Dollars, these programs can infuse the local food economy with millions of dollars through the 72 farmers markets across the state. To find a market near you that accepts EBT, visit To learn more about P-EBT, visit

Originally posted on the Missoulian’s website

Celebrating National Farmers Market Week (Aug 2-8) with Increased Food Benefits

SNAP customers can “double-up” more than ever this year.

MISSOULA, MT – The Community Food and Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) joins markets across Montana in celebrating National Farmers Market Week from August 2-8, 2020. This year, CFAC is celebrating both the resiliency and essential service that farmer’s markets provide bringing fresh, local and nutritious food to all Montanans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With advocacy and guidance from The Grow Montana Food Policy Coalition, the Governor’s Office deemed farmers markets as essential businesses because they provide much needed staple grocery items and agricultural products to consumers. Also, many farmers markets across the state accept SNAP, allowing low-income customers access to healthy, locally grown food.

CFAC helps SNAP customers stretch their benefits even further by administering the Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) program at farmers markets state-wide. For every $1 spent with a SNAP benefit card on fruits and vegetables, customers are matched another dollar $1 free in fruits and vegetables with DSD. Almost every market that offers DSD in Montana has increased their matching dollar amounts for SNAP customers this summer. The cap is usually $10 in SNAP benefits that can be matched, and now that amount has increased to up to $20 being matched.

As of the beginning of the 2020 farmers market season, Double SNAP Dollars is being offered at 26 sites across Montana: 22 farmers markets, two CSAs, one farm stand, and one grocery store. Since the DSD program began in 2015, over 6,000 customers have been served, leading to increased fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.  During that time, $440,000 has been spent through the DSD program on local foods, boosting Montana farmers’ income.

“Farmers markets are essential to the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Montanans, both customers and farmers.” says Ian Finch, Program Coordinator at CFAC. “It takes the planning, organization, and execution of dedicated individuals and community organizations to not only make markets happen, but to ensure they allow access to fresh, local food to everyone in the community. That work has been harder than ever this year during the pandemic and farmers markets and the vendors who sell at them need all the help they can get.“

In order to keep farmers markets open and a safe destination for both customers and vendors during COVID-19, CFAC, in collaboration with the Western Montana Growers Coop (WMGC), received grant assistance from the national Gus Schumacker Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) to direct hand sanitizer being produced at Headframe Spirits in Butte to farmers markets and farms for free.

Finch said, “It truly takes a whole community and many dedicated people across sectors to come together during hard times like this to ensure basic human needs, like food access for all, can be met.”

Additionally, Montana recently received USDA approval to implement Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT), which provides food benefits to families who lost access to free and reduced-price school meals during the unanticipated school closures last school year. Most eligible families will receive benefits automatically, either on an existing SNAP card or, if they are not participating in SNAP, on a new Montana EBT card. P-EBT benefits can be redeemed anywhere that EBT cards are accepted, including farmers markets. P-EBT benefits are eligible for matching dollars through Double SNAP Dollars.

The public can participate in National Farmers Market week by attending their local market in person, placing an on-line farmers market order if available, visiting a new farmers market or supporting local or national organizations that provide resources to farmers markets. There are more than 70 farmers markets in Montana, according to the Montana Department of Agriculture, and many are opening with social distancing and increased sanitation practices in place. To find a Farmers Market near you visit AERO’s Abundant Montana Directory