The Food Assistance Match (FAM) program allows customers who participate in programs such as SNAP or WIC to purchase fresh and local foods at a substantial discount.
Since its inception, the Bellevue Farmers Market has worked to make food accessibility a priority for our neighbors. The pandemic exposed the extent of short and long-term food insecurity in our community, We are excited to multiply the buying power of in-need neighbors at our market by matching $1 for every $1 spent (subject to change as funds and opportunities allow).
How does it work?
If you receive SNAP, WIC, or SFMNP, you can visit our vendors, and select your favorite foods. The vendor will create a receipt for the eligible items chosen (restrictions may apply). When you are done, you will stop by our market booth and the volunteers will enter the information from the receipts, and process your payment for one-half of the total cost. While your payment is processing, a volunteer will gather your purchases and bring them to you.
- Who is eligible?
- Anyone who participates in a food assistance program, such as SNAP, WIC, or SFMNP.
- What can I buy?
- If you are using SNAP you can purchase any food that you would normally be able to use your assistance for in a supermarket, such as produce, meat, dairy, grains, or sauces. For more information see https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items.
- If you are using WIC or SFMNP, you can purchase any produce grown in Pennsylvania, For more information, click here.
- Are hot meals included?
- No, prepared hot meals are not elibile for SNAP or other assistance programs, and so are not available for the Food Assistance Match.
- What if I want to buy something that isn’t covered?
- If you’d like to purchase something that is not covered, such as a hot meal from a food truck, alcohol, or a non-food product from a vendor, you may do so at the vendor’s booth, with your personal cash or cards. These will not be added to the receipt for the match, and you will not need to have them delivered to the market booth.
- Do all vendors accept the match?
- Vendors who offer foods will accept SNAP and the match.
- For WIC and SFMNP checks, Haffey Family Farm, Pond HIll Farm, and Sturges Orchard accept these. You will present the check directly to the vendor, and they will note it on the receipt. The match will then take place at the market booth as usual.
- How is this program funded?
- The FAM program is possible due to donations from the community, local organizations, and government funding.
- In early 2020, we felt compelled to become more than a farmers market to meet the community’s needs amid the pandemic. We leveraged significant grants from the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Heinz Endowments to create the Feeding Neighbors Program. This effort, powered by more than 200 volunteers, delivered over 30,000 prepared meals to more than 250 families in our neighborhood from March to July of 2020. This experience exposed both the pandemic-related and long-term food insecurity in our community, and we used the remaining funds to expand the buying power of in-need neighbors at our market through the matching program.
- Since then, we’ve raised funds to continue the match through a crowdfunding campaign, grant writing, and local business community support.
- We want to thank our neighbors in the community who donated to our crowdfunding campaign. The full list can be viewed here.
- How is this program different from the Food Bucks program at other Allegheny county markets?
- The Food Bucks program is administered by a local nonprofit organization, Just Harvest. Shoppers at participating markets swipe their electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards and receive tokens they can use just like cash to purchase a variety of fresh produce. The Food Bucks program provides a match as well. For each $5 of tokens purchased via an EBT, they provide $2 in Food Bucks — coupons that eligible vendors accept at their individual points of sale.
- The Bellevue Farmers Market participates in the Food Bucks program, as a component of the match; however, we have worked with Just Harvest to integrate the process directly into the FAM program, so no tokens or coupons are exchanged. When a customer purchases an eligible item at the Bellevue Farmers Market, a portion of the match is contributed by Just Harvest. We are extremely grateful to be able to take part in the Food Bucks program in this way.
- How many people in the area are receiving Food Assistance?
- We live in an economically diverse region. More than 10,122 households in the 15202 ZIP code receive SNAP, WIC, or SFMNP assistance.
- In the Northgate School District, which serves the boroughs of Bellevue and Avalon, all families enrolled in the district received P-EBT benefits in 2021. Over 50% of the students in the district are eligible for free or reduced lunches, which has allowed the district to qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the National School Lunch Program. Through this provision, schools can provide free meals to all students.
- How many people use the match each week?
- In 2021, we have matched funds for nearly 40 families each week. These families were able to purchase an average of $1200 of fresh and local foods each week. This is a 40% participation increase and a 33% value increase over last year. We anticipate this participation in this program will continue to build as awareness grows.
- How can I help?
- To donate to the FAM Program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.