The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC), a division of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, is pleased to announce the Maryland Market Money (MMM) program of SMADC, jointly administered by Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO), has been awarded a $1.4 Million U.S Department of Agriculture Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) grant to establish a food access program in partnership with grant lead FRESHFARM and the Local Environmental Trust.

As stated in the recent FRESHFARM press announcement, the mission of this unique four-year, multi-state Coalition is to incentivize the use of nutrition benefit programs among eligible residents to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as Food Stamps, at more than 110 farmers markets and CSAs in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

“The GusNIP grant brings $1.4 million federal dollars to the region to increase fruit and vegetable purchases and consumption for more than 20,000 SNAP households in the Metro Washington Region,” commented Hugo Mogollon, FRESHFARM’s Executive Director. “Such outcomes are possible thanks to the unique regional reach of FRESHFARM and the collective impact of our Coalition members, the Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), and the Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission (SMADC), which operate Virginia Fresh Match and Maryland Market Money, respectively.”

This new Coalition will increase SNAP shoppers’ convenience and agency at regional farmers’ markets by creating incentive program reciprocity across borders, consolidating incentive program outreach and marketing efforts, and supporting improved management, data collection, and financial reporting systems. Additionally, the Coalition will benefit the region by creating reciprocity and connectivity among existing state incentive programs: Maryland Market Money, DC Fresh Match, and Virginia Fresh Match.

Maryland Market Money seeks to level the playing field for shoppers experiencing food insecurity by creating equity in food access at Maryland farmer’s markets and farm stands. At the same time, the program strengthens Maryland foodways by increasing revenue for farmers selling at farmers’ markets and farm stands while ensuring farmers’ markets are inclusive community spaces.

Maryland Market Money removes economic barriers for shoppers experiencing food insecurity by providing a dollar-for-dollar match for purchases made using federal nutrition benefits – SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, eWIC, and Senior and WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Programs (FMNP) benefits at farmers markets. SMADC also assists market partners to participate in the Maryland Market Money food access programming and helps markets set up their federal nutrition benefit acceptance systems, as well as collaborating with partners throughout the State to coordinate marketing and outreach campaigns.

“SMADC is excited to partner with our esteemed colleagues at FRESHFARM and LEAP to continue to increase healthy, local food access for the folks who need it most in our region while simultaneously bolstering our local food system which has proven essential during the pandemic,” explains MMM Program and Grants Manager, Heather Hulsey. “This Coalition’s work will ultimately create a more inclusive and easier shopping experience for all SNAP consumers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia seeking to support their local farmers with enhanced and more accessible opportunities to access the highest quality local food for their families. Hundreds of local farms will see increased revenue to help their own families. It’s a total win-win project we truly believe in.”

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