SNAP for Seeds.

As we are all working to help low-income families garden and budget their food stamp dollars in Waco, I thought this would be an important conversation for us to start.  Families are able to use SNAP benefits for purchasing seeds and plants.

Locations are hard to come by that actually accept food stamps and sell a good selection and variety of seeds.  I would love to see some sort of push by us advocates or governing bodies to help nurseries and garden centers accept food stamps.  Or help farm stands already accepting food stamps to sell and distribute seeds.

If we are able to transition the World Hunger Relief Farm into accepting food stamps, WHRI could sell and distribute seeds and transplants through work with the Urban Gardening Coalition and its partner gardens.

– bethel.


starting the conversation . . . (as submitted to the Community Food Security Coalition‘s listserv by Daniel Bowman Simon and the WHO Farm)

Based on some fun conversations that arose from a Low Income CSA panel at Stone Barns’ Young Farmers Conference and elsewhere, I’ve googled a bit and searched through the COMFOOD archives of the past few years, I can’t find a single discussion about the great fact that SNAP benefits can be used to “purchase” “Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.”  [See Food Stamps and Fresh Food for more details].

Having a hand in growing one’s own food is quite popular these days, and in these hard economic times, there is a large increase in people using SNAP benefits. it would seem that seeds Could be more actively be PROMOTED as a very cost-efficient use of SNAP benefits.

Anyone know of municipalities, states, non-profits, supermarkets, farmers markets, seed companies or other entities getting the word out that “SNAP is for seeds”, so that seeds seize the day?  Should they/we be?

Obviously, there would need to be some technical assistance and tools and land resources…but I’m thinking that when people walk into a supermarket, they could be greeted with a seed display announcing “Use your SNAP benefits.”  I’m thinking that when people swipe their SNAP card at the cashier, they could be asked “Would you like seeds with that?”  I’m thinking that when people apply for SNAP benefits, their home state could include info on seeds and cultivation and ROI.  I’m thinking the SNAP card could have images of seeds and soil and growth, etc.  I’m thinking that kids who garden at school could educate their parents to use SNAP for Seeds.  I’m thinking that if people know they can get seeds, they might then say “Please let us use that vacant land so our seeds can sprout.”

Let’s get creative here!

*And yes, this is somewhat outside of my scope, but if there’s sufficient interest I’d be happy to start up a separate listserv for brainstorming.  Let me know if you want in.*

To borrow from Big Will, Together We are Growing Power!

Requisite inspirational passage rooted in historical observation: (Source: and City Bountiful by Laura Lawson
The Mayor of Detroit [Hazen Pingree] in his annual message to Common Council in January, 1895, said, “It seems to me the experiment [vacant lot cultivation] has clearly demonstrated, first, that at least ninety-five per cent of the people who are in destitute circumstances as a result of the hard times are ready, willing, and anxious to work; second, that a large number of these people can be supported by utilizing vacant lands on the outskirts of the city; third, that a very small space of ground is sufficient to raise enough vegetables to support a family through the winter; fourth, that a majority of our citizens who own vacant land would much rather allow it to be cultivated by the poor than to pay a large tax for their support; and fifth, that the needy are therefore assisted without creating the demoralization in the habits of the people that gratuitous aid always entails.”

And more recently, September 2009, President Clinton at the Closing Plenary of CGI, just before he called Will Allen “my hero”:

“One of the mistakes that I and all my predecessors made when we stopped helping people feed themselves from 1981 forward, is we forgot the dignity element of being able to feed yourself.”


One thought on “SNAP for Seeds.

  1. dear Friend,

    I am a 78 year old man with long experience in seed propagation and distribution. Companies like Montsanto and Seminis are in restraint of trade and are blocking seed merchants from selling seeds to indigent people for food stamps. I need help in making seeds available to poor people as to help them help themselves to food security. Please contact me

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