by Christopher Jackson, JD
While most think of Michigan as a manufacturing state, Michigan’s agricultural production continues to be a substantial economic contributor to the state. Although much of the agricultural products produced in Michigan are exported to other states and countries, this agricultural production still plays a vital role in supplying food to Michiganders. Farmers’ markets play a vital role in connecting consumers directly to farmers, thus allowing farmers to cut out the “middle man” and providing consumers access to locally grown food. In Michigan, there are over 300 farmers markets throughout the state. Many of these markets are members of the Michigan Farmers Market Association and the Fair Food Network. These organizations work to promote the growth and development of farmers markets while promoting good nutrition and consumer access to locally grown food.
Nearly 1.7 million Michiganders receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to help them better afford groceries. SNAP recipients receive monthly benefits on the Michigan Bridge Card which they can use like a debit card at most grocery stores to purchase food as well as seeds and plants that can be used in gardens. Michigan’s Fair Food Network has created a program, called Double Up Food Bucks, which provides healthy incentives for SNAP recipients who use their Bridge Card at participating farmers’ markets. The Double Up Food Bucks program matches what you spend up to $20 per day toward Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets. This year, the program has been expanded to include a few grocery stores in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Battle Creek. Additionally, Senior Project FRESH assists Michigan seniors who qualify by providing coupons to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets. These Project FRESH benefits are available in most Michigan counties, but make sure to contact your county’s agency to determine eligibility.
Christopher Jackson is an attorney at Elder Law of Michigan, and has been a member of the Elder Law team since early 2014. Christopher holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Indianapolis, and graduated with his Juris Doctor in 2013 from Michigan State University College of Law. As an attorney at Elder Law, Christopher provides legal advice to Michigan seniors on a wide-variety of areas, including estate planning, wills and trusts, Medicare/Medicaid, social security benefits, and insurance issues.