One of the reasons we participate in non-garden related events is that we never know who we're going to meet. Last year we brought our seeds and a seed bomb making project to the New Museum's street festival in New York City. One of the dynamic characters we met there was Daniel Bowman Simon. He educated me about something I didn't know, that people can use their Food Stamp benefits to buy seeds.
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a USDA Food and Nutrition program previously known as the Food Stamp Program. In 2008 the program began redefining the focus of providing food for those in need by focusing more on nutrition and access to fresh, healthy foods. As of February 2012, 46,326,352 Americans in 22,155,497 households depend on SNAP EBT benefits (Food Stamps) to put food on the table. One little known part of SNAP benefits is that they can be used to buy seeds. Households can use SNAP EBT benefits (Food Stamps) to buy seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.
Daniel enthusiastically explained how reaching out to farmers markets, community gardens, SNAP advocates, and EBT recipients could create broad access to long term sustenance for those in need. He also explained that the main obstacle to getting these seeds into the hands of those in need is access.
We're always looking for more ways to get our seeds into the hands of gardeners who need them most. Last year we donated over 1000 packs to deserving organizations. We also partnered with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and donated close to 2000 packs of seeds to their City Harvest community gardens through the Philadelphia International Flower Show. We're following Daniel's passionate lead and forging new relationships with farmer's markets in NYC and NYS. We'll be launching our SNAP Seeds program this winter. We'll let you know as the program develops which markets are on board. If your farmers market is interested in participating, let us know!
As with everything in our seed world, this is all about collaboration and cooperation. Please check out Daniel's site, SNAP Gardens. He's doing the outreach, education, and making the connections to bring home grown foods to families in need. Thanks Daniel!