Food Assistance Programs

Michigan farmers markets can participate in a number of state and federal food assistance programs. Farmers markets should accept these programs to expand food access, increase sales, attract more customers, and create marketing and grant opportunities.

SNAP Bridge Cards

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”) is the largest and most popular program at Michigan markets. SNAP is a federal program authorized by the USDA FNS office. As of April 2023, over 1.3 million Michigan residents, including over 550,000 children, received SNAP benefits at an average monthly amount of $170. This means over $235 million dollars are distributed in Michigan each and every month. SNAP benefits can be spent on eligible food items, including plants that produce food. 

A majority of farmers markets operate under a central terminal model where the market is the retailer authorized to accept the SNAP benefits.  The customer requests a certain dollar amount from their SNAP Bridge Card at the beginning of their shopping trip.  The market distributes a specialized scrip, usually in wooden tokens in increments of $1, to the customer for the amount they have requested. The customer then spends the scrip/tokens on eligible products sold at the market. No cash back to the customer is allowed. At the end of the market day, vendors return the tokens to the market office to be reimbursed for the value of the tokens that were spent with them. While this is the most common setup at Michigan markets, it’s not the only option! If your market is interested in exploring other models the MIFMA team is available to help support that process.

MIFMA is also proud to facilitate a program for the State of Michigan to help provide no-cost wireless equipment to process SNAP Bridge Card transactions. Once you have been approved by FNS as a SNAP Retailer and receive your seven digit permit number, you can apply for this equipment here.   

Additional Resources

Double Up Food Bucks

The Double Up Food Buck program is an incentive program, also known as a matching program, that works alongside SNAP.  It provides additional funds for SNAP customers to use when shopping at farmers markets at no extra cost to them. In Michigan, the program will match a SNAP shopper’s purchase amount up to $10 per day.  The Double Up tokens ($2 silver tokens distributed by the program) are only able to be spent on Michigan grown fruits and vegetables.  The tokens are distributed at the time of the customer’s SNAP transaction, and the tokens are spent with vendors for the value of the token. For example, if a shopper requests $10 from their SNAP Bridge Card to spend at the market, they would receive the $10 they requested and $10 of Double Up Tokens. Vendors return the tokens at the end of the market with their SNAP scrip to be reimbursed.

Double Up Food Bucks is a program of Fair Food Network, and MIFMA provides support with the application process. The program is currently at capacity and will not be accepting new sites during the 2023 season. MIFMA anticipates the application period for new sites to open during January and February 2024 for the 2024 market season. 

Additional Resources

WIC Produce Connection

The WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, formerly known as WIC Project FRESH in Michigan is now called WIC Produce Connection.  Beginning this year, managed by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) WIC office (Women, Infant, and Children), is eliminating the use of paper vouchers by program participants and adding benefits directly onto the participant’s WIC EBT card. Due to this change, farmers markets are no longer able to accept these benefits on behalf of the farmers that attend their markets. Instead, each farmer or grower must now apply directly on their own to participate in the program and obtain the ability to process the WIC EBT card either through a smartphone app or a point-of-sale (POS) device.

MIFMA has created a Frequently Asked Questions resource to assist farmers markets, community-driven marketplaces, and vendors during this transition. The information in this resource was collected by MIFMA from staff at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services WIC division, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services resources, and other partners. MIFMA is not the administrator or operator of the WIC Produce Connection program.

To sign up as an authorized grower in the program, please email If you have additional questions about these changes, please email 

Additional Resources

Senior Project FRESH

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, or Senior Market FRESH program, is a coupon-based program through MDHHS Behavioral and Physical Health and Aging Services Administration, Aging and Community Services Division. Similar to WIC Project Fresh, coupons are distributed at a county level and through a designated lead agency, which can vary and include a county’s Commission on Aging office or MSU Extension branch. To participate, customers must pick up coupons from the lead agency in their county of residence (even if another agency is closer to them by distance). Coupons come in $5 increments and are valid for Michigan grown fruits, vegetables, and honey. Coupons change color every year and are only valid in the year in which they are distributed.

This program’s authorization is tied to a market manager and not the market itself, meaning new market managers must re-apply to the program even if the market itself has previously participated. You will be given a Market Manager Number which you will use on your program documentation. The coupons will have a space for your Market Manager number, as well as a vendor number that you will assign for each vendor at the beginning of the program season.  The coupons then are mailed into the Aging and Community Services office in Lansing where they process them and process your reimbursement.

Additional Resources

Conclusion and Frequently Asked Questions

MIFMA recognizes that the increase in the number of farmers markets in Michigan accepting SNAP Bridge Cards would not have been possible without the support of partners from all over the state.  We’d like to specifically thank the Food Bank Council of Michigan and their F.O.R. (Food and Other Resources) Helpline that supports shoppers gain access to the programs listed above.

MIFMA’s Food Access Team offers multiple resources such as trainings, Legacy Binder materials, application support, and so much more. We are always an email away and are always willing to help community driven market places.  Each year in November, MIFMA also hosts Year-End Food Access Meetings which provide opportunities for market managers, partners, and MIFMA staff to connect and reflect on the previous season and start discussing any potential changes and opportunities for the upcoming year. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What products are eligible for SNAP? 
    • SNAP benefits can be spent on any eligible food items and plants that produce food. “Hot” and/or “ready to eat foods” designed to be eaten onsite at a farmers market setting are not eligible purchases. Ineligible items that fall under that category include such as pizzas, ice cream cones, or other unpackaged items such as shaved ice or brewed coffees.
  • Where do I go to start the process for accepting SNAP Bridge Cards at my market?
    • Click here for more information about SNAP and how to begin the process.
  • How do I receive free wireless equipment to run SNAP at my market? 
    • Once you have been approved for SNAP and have a valid FNS number, you can apply to MIFMA’s no-cost wireless equipment program to obtain the equipment needed for SNAP Bridge Card transactions.