Maximize Your Grocery Budget at Farmer’s Markets

"Maximize Your Grocery Budget at Farmer's Markets" in white letters on a lime green box over a dark green background and a picture of blueberries, blackberries, tomatoes, apples, squash and other produce in blue bins at a vendor.

Cost and access are some of the greatest challenges that you might face when trying to support a healthy diet and maximize your grocery budget. Fresh, healthy produce tends to be more expensive than other less nutritious items.   

That is where local farmers markets across the state are stepping in to provide quality foods and resources to afford them. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many farmer’s markets have remained open as essential service providers. Some markets across the state have even seen an increase in community members using their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy fresh produce.   

Using SNAP benefits at farmer’s markets helps support a healthy lifestyle for families across the state, while also supporting local agriculture.  

What is SNAP?

SNAP can help you maximize your grocery budget. This federal benefit program helps cover the cost of healthy foods. SNAP funds are loaded onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card that is used like a debit card. You can purchase food at grocery stores, convenience stores, some farmer’s markets and other places across the state that sell groceries. Learn more about SNAP HERE.

SNAP and Farmer’s Markets

Not all vendors accept EBT! Each farmer’s market in South Carolina has slightly different offerings in terms of produce, meats, and other home goods. If you want to use your EBT card at a farmer’s market, you must purchase from vendors who allow EBT payments. You are encouraged to visit your local market to learn more about the SNAP benefits they may offer. Coordinators at markets can explain the programs they offer, along with qualifying vendors that are available. To find a farmer’s market near you, visit the South Carolina Department of Agriculture website HERE.

Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)

The SFMNP helps qualified seniors purchase healthy fruits and vegetables at authorized farmer’s markets or roadside stands. The goal of this program is to support a healthy diet in South Carolina’s aging population. SFMNP participants receive $25 in the form of five, $5 checks to spend at qualifying locations. Checks are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Seniors must apply annually to receive the SFMNP benefit. Visit the South Carolina Department of Social Services to find more details HERE.

Healthy Bucks Program

The Healthy Bucks Program is for SNAP recipients only. When you purchase at least $5 worth of food using your SNAP EBT card, you will receive $10 worth of Healthy Bucks tokens (Limit $40 in Healthy Bucks). You can use your Healthy Bucks tokens to purchase additional fruits and vegetables from qualified vendors. To find more information on this program and participating vendors visit Healthy Bucks online HERE.

Apply for SNAP and Shop Local

Supporting local markets is beneficial to individuals, families, and the community. People can purchase foods that are fresh while also helping local agriculture. SNAP may be a great option for families in need who have been financially impacted due to the pandemic. You can apply for SNAP benefits easily over the phone with SC Thrive. Our Contact Center is available at 800.726.8774, Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM to take your calls.