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7 Ways to Get FREE Food from the Farmers Market in 2024

7 Ways to Get FREE Food from the Farmers Market in 2024

You could get free food from your local farmers market this year! There are programs that give free food to low income seniors, children, parents, veterans, and more. If you want to eat healthier on a budget, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

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Free Food with EBT

Using your EBT card at farmers markets is a fantastic way to access fresh, healthy food while supporting local farmers. Many farmers markets across the country accept SNAP benefits. You can use your EBT card to buy eligible food items there.

In addition, some markets offer special programs. They can double your benefits or give extra discounts. This will make your food budget go even further.

In this section, we’ll explore how to use your EBT card at farmers markets. We’ll also see how to get the most out of these valuable programs.

Double Up Food Bucks

Double Up Food Bucks helps SNAP recipients get free fruits and veggies from farmers markets. When you shop at certain places, this program will match your benefits dollar for dollar. That means that if you spend $5, you’ll get $10 worth of food. This program basically doubles your purchasing power.

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This program only works in certain places. To find a Double Up market near you, check out our comprehensive Double Up Food Bucks guide.

Other Market Match Programs

While Double Up Food Bucks is a well-known program, not all states participate in it. However, many states have their own versions of market match programs that offer similar benefits. These programs might go by different names.

For example, some states have programs like Market Match, Fresh Funds, or Bonus Bucks. They work like Double Up Food Bucks. These programs also match the amount spent using SNAP benefits, allowing you to get extra produce for the same cost. To find out more about these programs and find a market near you, check out our detailed guide.

Free Food for Seniors

Seniors often face unique challenges when it comes to accessing nutritious food. The good news is that there are many programs that help low income seniors get free food from the farmers market.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) helps low-income seniors get fresh, healthy food for free. You may be able to get these free coupons if you are at least 60 years old and meet the income guidelines. You can use these coupons to get free fruits, vegetables, herbs and even honey.

To join the program, you need to apply through your state’s SFMNP office. Each state has its own rules but usually your local Area Agency on Aging can help you connect with this program.

For more information on this program, check out our SFMNP Guide. We’ll help you get the most out of the SFMNP so you can enjoy fresh, nutritious food all season long.

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FreshRX Prescriptions

Fresh Produce Prescriptions are becoming more common. These are nutrition incentive programs run by the federal government.

With fresh produce prescriptions, certain low income people can get coupons for free food. Usually, a healthcare provider will give patients “prescriptions” for fresh produce. They can redeem these at participating farmers markets and stores. The goal is to help low income people get healthier food.

Some examples of programs like this include:

  • Georgia Food for Health program provides free healthy food for six months while you participate in cooking and wellness education classes.
  • California, VeggieRx provides free farmers market vouchers to people who participate in their cooking demonstrations and workshops.  
  • Florida’s FreshRx gives immunocompromised participants a free farm share food box every week for 16 weeks.
  • Louisiana’s low income families who have a child on Medicaid may be able to get six months worth of free food prescriptions from Healthy Families Produce Rx.

If there’s a program like this in your area, your local farmers market will most likely know about it. You can ask at the information desk. The same organizations that run the market programs usually run programs like this. So, you can ask them too.

Free Food for Kids

Farmers markets offer several programs to provide free fresh produce to kids, ensuring they have access to healthy food. If you’ve got children in your household, make sure to pay attention to this!

Farmers Market Nutrition Program

Children under the age 5 years old can get coupons for free food at the farmers market. This is through the WIC’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).

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This program provides fresh fruits and vegetables for certain eligible families. Children under the age of 5 and pregnant/postpartum women are eligible for this help.

You’ll need to contact your local WIC office to get your vouchers. Once you have them, you can use them to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs. The vouchers have to be used at participating farmers markets and farm stands.

For more information about this incredible program, please check out our FMNP Guide.

Power of Produce Program

The Power of Produce (POP) Program is a really fun program for kids. This program gives children tokens they can exchange for free food at the farmers market.

I first discovered the POP Program years ago when taking my kids to our local market. Each week, my kids received two tokens to spend on any fresh produce they wanted. They would get so excited about choosing their fruits and vegetables. Since I have five kids, that was $10 in free produce each week. This made our weekly market trips some of their favorite memories.

There are no income limits for this program. It is often sponsored by local businesses. Usually, all kids need to do is take part in a fun activity, like arts and crafts, to claim their tokens.

Each market sets its own rules about age, residency, and income. In most cases, there are no income or residency requirements. Children usually have to be under age 12, but that can vary as well.

Since it’s organized by local markets, the POP Program can be hard to track. We know it operates in many states. These include Maine, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The USDA has indicated that the program is active at thousands of markets across the United States.

To find out if the POP Program is available in your area, reach out to your local farmers market and ask. This is a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about healthy eating and make lasting memories.

Free Food for Veterans

Some farmers markets offer free food to veterans, too. These programs aren’t as common. They are usually offered seasonally and only in certain areas.

I first spotted this in Connecticut. The Danbury Farmers Market offers a $10 gift certificate for veterans. You need to have a valid veterans ID to get it. This program runs until funding runs out every year, so make sure to claim yours early.

In New Hampshire and Maine, there’s another program that offers free food for veterans. The Vouchers for Veterans program gives veterans a $20 voucher for free farmers market produce. You just need to visit the Winter Farmers Market. These markets are held in January, February, March and April. The program occurs again in September, as well. Make sure to bring proof of military service and residency to get the free voucher. 

The VA in Bedford, Massachusetts, sometimes hosts a Free Produce Market for veterans as well. According to the VA website, it is held on the third Thursday of every month. 

Relief Recap

There are many ways to get free food from the farmers market! From vouchers for seniors to tokens for kids, the programs in this list provide millions of people with free fruits and vegetables every year. Check with these providers to find more ways that you can get access to affordable food in your area!

Raychelle

Monday 10th of June 2024

Can you find out if KY take the EBT card for the farmer's markets there is always stuff about the other state why haven't anyone said anything about ky

Catherine Marucci

Wednesday 12th of June 2024

Hi Raychelle. We'll look into it. In the meantime, it might be worth contracting your local farmer's market to see if there are any programs they work with.

Steven

Saturday 8th of June 2024

I'm a Senior & Vet in Lawton, Oklahoma what programs are available in my area?

Catherine Marucci

Wednesday 12th of June 2024

Hi Steven. If you don't see any options in your area, it may be worth calling 211 to see if they know of anything available in your town.

Queet

Friday 7th of June 2024

Hello Nicole what about Greensboro NC area? Thanks for any Info will help

Catherine Marucci

Wednesday 12th of June 2024

Hi. If you don't see any options in your area, it may be worth calling 211 to see if they know of anything available that will work with your local farmers market.

Shirley Lawson

Thursday 6th of June 2024

I live in Howardsville VA. I’m 88. Any help I could get would be appreciated.

Nicole Thelin

Friday 7th of June 2024

Hey Shirley! It looks like you can apply for free farmers market vouchers on the Virginia State website. I hope this helps!