Eat Fresh Maryland
Goals & Activities
MDFMA is committed to growing the role of farmers markets as access points for quality, locally produced food for all Marylanders. Through our Eat Fresh Maryland program, MDFMA generates greater economic access to local foods by increasing the capacity of farmers and farmers markets to accept federal nutrition benefits. This program not only enables low-income Marylanders to utilize their food assistance at farmers markets, but also generates revenue for local farmers and keeps federal benefits dollars in our state economy.
Eat Fresh Maryland activities include:
- Providing farmers and farmers markets with technical assistance regarding acceptance of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps); Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP); and Woman, Infants, and Children’s Program Fruit and Vegetable Checks (WIC FVC);
- In partnership with local and state agencies, conducting outreach to federal nutrition benefits participants statewide to promote redemption of SNAP, FMNP, and WIC FVC at Maryland farmers markets;
- Developing tailored outreach plans for farmers market managers seeking to make their markets more inclusive; and,
- Advocating on the local, state, and federal levels for policies that facilitate the acceptance and redemption of federal nutrition benefits at farmers markets.
Interested in learning more about how your farm or market can benefit from these services? Please contact Michele Levy.
Eat Fresh Maryland launched in November 2010 as a statewide network committed to increasing access to fresh, local food through increased federal nutrition benefits redemption at farmers markets. The program was incubated under the Takoma Park-based Crossroads Community Food Network, and migrated to the Maryland Farmers Market Association in spring 2013. This public-private partnership comprised more than 30 farmers markets, non-profits, and both state and local agencies, including Maryland Hunger Solutions, Future Harvest-CASA, Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), Maryland WIC, and University of Maryland Extension.
In its early stages, Eat Fresh Maryland worked to create more effective and efficient tools for markets to include and provide outreach to federal nutrition benefits clients. These included: a) shared, multilingual marketing materials and signage, including an English/Spanish video screened at benefits offices statewide; b) technical assistance for all network participants; c) a forum for market managers to share resources, knowledge, and experiences concerning best practices; and e) a replicable model for use nationwide. In 2012, we piloted a market-based healthy seasonal eating curriculum, Market to Mealtime, which is now being implemented statewide through University of Maryland Extension.
While Eat Fresh Maryland no longer operates as a formal network, MDFMA continues to provide technical assistance and customized support to market managers and farmers; develop and disseminate outreach and educational materials; and strive to simultaneously expand food access and support local agriculture.