Use SNAP benefits to buy seeds and plants to start your own vegetable garden

USDA’s food and nutrition service allows SNAP participants to purchase seeds and plants to grown their own household foods.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly the Food Stamp Program, provides temporary assistance to low-income households to purchase food needed for good health and has done so since 1939. On the list of SNAP eligible food items are fruits and vegetables as well as seeds and plants to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just a beginner, the Michigan State University Extension website and local MSU Extension offices provide a wealth of information to assist you in starting your home garden.

The Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 makes accessing fresh fruits and vegetables through home gardening a reality for many SNAP families. A SNAP household has prolonged food purchasing power when seeds and plants are purchased, grown and harvested for personal consumption. Households that grow their own produce have the possibility of significantly increasing the availability of fresh vegetables and fruits throughout the growing season. Availability is so important as current food prices remain high, but food budgets may be tight for some households. Couple availability with the documented nutritional benefits of eating fresh produce and you have a winning combination for SNAP families.

Before you head out to purchase seeds and plants be sure your farmer’s market, local roadside produce stand or retail stores with garden center are a participating SNAP vendor and are setup to accept the Electronic Balance Transfer (EBT) cards. Across Michigan, the number of farmers’ markets accepting SNAP benefits continues to increase each summer, which is great news for SNAP households.

When visiting a farmer’s market tap into the expertise of a local farmer or volunteer Master Gardener to ask questions and get advice about selecting, planting and harvesting. Whether you prefer container gardening, square foot gardening or a large plot, growing your own produce can be a fun experience that yields food for your table and even food to preserve for another day. Take full advantage of your SNAP benefits by growing your own vegetables and fruit this season. It can be very rewarding to plant it, grow it, harvest it and eat it all with your own hands.

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