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Ohio State University Extension


Marketing and Promotion of Nutrition Incentives

Community Development
Amanda Osborne, Educator, Community Development, Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County
Christie Welch, Direct Food & Agricultural Marketing Specialist, The Ohio State University, South Centers

For farmers market Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and nutrition incentive programs to be successful, the community must be aware of the programs and how to participate in them. Nutrition incentives support the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers. These incentives are available in the form of matching dollars, vouchers, coupons, or discounts (see for more information).

To be effective, farmers markets need to consider how they will promote incentive programs to their communities. According to the Farmers Market Coalition, “Once your market has created a new SNAP EBT and/or debit/credit program, its success will depend on letting shoppers know about it. … For SNAP, there are three main groups to target with your outreach: 1) community partners, 2) shoppers, and 3) vendors” (Farmers Market Coalition, n.d.). A variety of promotional efforts can be pursued based on market capacity, community partnerships, and funding.

Printed Marketing Materials

Developing printed promotional materials is essential for marketing SNAP and nutrition incentive programs. Printed promotional materials will need to be developed and distributed well before the market opens for the season. Farmers markets can provide community partners with printed materials that can be shared with their clients to help promote the program. Information that should be listed on printed materials includes:

  • what benefits the incentives match:
    • SNAP and the Women, Infants and Children Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP)
    • Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)
  • how the client can receive incentives
  • market(s) dates, times, locations, etc.
  • program restrictions, if any (e.g., incentives to be used for fruits and vegetables only)
  • local funders or sponsors if applicable
  • contact information if applicableTiffin Seneca Farmers Market advertisement with information on how low-income individuals can receive free fruits and vegetables using a SNAP EBT card at the farmers market, as well as a website URL to learn more about the program.

There are many ways to create and design promotional materials. When designing these materials, it’s important to make them attractive but easy to read and understand. In addition to printed materials, short videos showing how the program works can also be beneficial. A short instructional video helps remove the participants’ uncertainty on how to receive and use nutrition incentives.

Free Marketing Avenues—Community Partnerships

One of the most effective and efficient ways to promote nutrition incentive programs is through community partnerships. Attending community meetings and providing printed materials to community partners raise awareness among the many agencies and individuals working with SNAP-eligible clientele:

  • county SNAP-Ed and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)
  • educators who often work within Ohio State University Extension
  • county Job and Family Services offices
  • city or county health departments
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) offices
  • local libraries or community centers
  • churches and other faith-based organizations
  • health care organizations
  • food banks and food pantries
  • local food councils

A free option to help promote SNAP and nutrition incentive programs is to work with the local media outlets. Local news organizations often share positive community stories. Farmers market staff can be featured on morning news shows or as guest speakers on radio shows. They can share basic information about how nutrition incentive programs work and when and where they’re available. Information can also be shared about how these programs support the community by increasing access to local fresh foods while supporting agribusinesses and the local economy.

Internet Promotion and Social Media

In addition to printed materials and community partnerships, having an effective online presence can be beneficial. A farmers market website should dedicate a page where individuals can learn more about the incentive program. Include information about who is eligible, how the incentives are distributed and redeemed, when and where the market operates, and contact information for the farmers market. It would also be beneficial to include a short video that demonstrates how individuals participate in the incentive program.

If your farmers market has the resources and expertise, having a presence on social-media platforms can also be excellent promotion. Work with community partners to cross-promote each other to reach your target audience. Most social-media platforms offer free forms of promotions, but successful promoters post on a regular basis, share relevant information, and respond to questions posted. Social-media platforms also offer paid advertising options. To ensure money is spent efficiently, first identify the platform(s) where your target audience spends time. Once you have identified a platform to use, determine if it has the ability to target ads to ZIP codes, demographics, and other parameters.

Paid Marketing Avenues

Depending on the available budget, farmers markets can purchase traditional advertisements in newspapers, radio, billboards, signage on public transportation, or even a television commercial. Some options may not be affordable for a farmers market. Regardless of the budget, farmers markets should shop around before purchasing any advertisements to ensure their target clientele would be reached.

Welcoming and Retaining Customers

With the introduction of nutrition incentive programs, farmers markets may attract first-time customers who have challenges related to shopping at the market. For some, transportation to the market can be a challenge. This can be overcome by partnering with community-based agencies that facilitate transportation. Customers may also have the perception that food at a farmers market is too expensive. Communicating how incentives reduce the cost of food for low-income individuals can help overcome this perception.

While reaching new customers is important, it is just as important to retain customers. Just like cash and credit customers, SNAP customers want to purchase quality food products and have a positive experience at the market. Farmers markets should invest time in training staff and vendors to ensure the SNAP and nutrition incentive programs are well run and that the market is a welcoming experience for customers. Customers who have positive experiences are likely to share them with friends and family. Promotion by word of mouth can be very impactful.View of banner hanging outside advertising vegetables, along with smaller banners attached underneath it, advertising that they accept market tokens and are an Ohio WIC Famers’ Market Nutrition Program.

Market events support positive experiences and attract returning customers. Popular farmers market events include weekly kids’ activities like a scavenger hunt or craft, seasonal events like trick-or-treating or a costume contest, and educational activities like SNAP-Ed cooking demonstrations or nutritional programming. Although these types of events may be time-consuming, they can be well executed with the right partnerships or volunteer support. Markets may also consider providing seasonal calendars to help educate new customers about what produce grows locally, free reusable tote bags to carry produce, and recipes that use the products purchased at the market to make nutritious meals. Clear signage throughout the market helps customers identify the stalls that accept SNAP and incentives benefits. Personal help from a volunteer, manager, or vendor increases the chance that first-time customers will become regular shoppers at the market. Be sure to train all market staff, vendors, and volunteers to ensure that they are communicating the same information (see for more information).

For additional information on nutrition incentives, visit and


Farmers Market Coalition. (n.d.). SNAP Outreach, Promotion and Partnerships. Retrieved October 10, 2023, from

Program Area(s): 
Originally posted Oct 12, 2023.