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Customer Discussions > Gardening forum

Food Stamps

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Showing 1-25 of 32 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 28, 2012, 12:16:05 AM PDT
Swedey says:
I did not know that in some states, including mine, one can buy vegetable garden plants and seeds with that SNAP card. If you are on government help a garden could be a profitable and fun way to supplement your budget.

And everyone can eat a little better. Check your website or call your caseworker.

Posted on Apr 28, 2012, 11:08:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 28, 2012, 11:08:40 AM PDT
This is part of the food stamp (SNAP) program in all 50 states. Check out for more information!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 28, 2012, 11:56:14 PM PDT
Swedey says:
Oh thank you for posting that. I volunteer at our local food bank and have mentioned this to several people who didn't know that they can buy seeds with their foods stamp card. And some crops like salad makings, lettuces, spinach, radishes are easy to grow and offer a quick yield.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2012, 10:47:18 AM PDT
Rick B. says:
not only can they buy seeds but they can also buy the plants such as tomato, strawberry, any food plant which can make it easier for some then by starting with seeds. Just be sure to let them know Flowers and shrubs don't qualify as food plants lol.another idea that may help is to go onto the web and look up container vegetable gardening. (and before anyone gets on me about how can they afford internet) Alot of Public libaries now have computers on the internet for doing just these kinds of things.) Containers are easy to come by. I get 2lb plastic Folger's coffee containers for free from friends and neighbors, just wash them, poke a few drainage holes in the bottom, and potting soil and bang a small container, and there are a few restraunts that will let you have 5 gal. food grade buckets for free or for a couple dollars and same thing.. wash throughly drill some drainage holes in the bottom and you got a larger planter. I use both in my nursery for year round fresh veggies. then those in apartments or rentals where they can't have a outdoor garden can grow their veggies. hope this helps some.

Posted on Apr 30, 2012, 5:15:21 PM PDT
Angelmc says:
Cool, I never heard of this either, finally something positive posted abt assistance. What a great incentive for ppl who need help, to feel a little better! :)

In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2012, 7:27:43 PM PDT
Swedey says:
Since vegetables are so costly and yet so neccessary I wanted to post it. We grow a small demonstration type salad garden- spinach, beet greens, lettuces, radishes, onions, etc downtown just so people can see how easy it is. And from a 4x 8 plot a family can eat vegetables almost everyday for about 5 months or so. The root veggies even longer. We also have a tiny pumpkin patch so that kids can see how fun and easy it is to grow a pumpkin for Halloween.

Plus, pumpkin soup rocks.

In reply to an earlier post on May 5, 2012, 4:46:56 AM PDT
Hedda says:
Wow, good information! I did not know this and now wonder how to spread the word locally. You know, without offending a stranger!

As a person who likes that my tax dollars help people in need, I am also happy to see a post about food stamps that isn't criticizing food stamp recipients.

Posted on May 6, 2012, 1:35:13 AM PDT
Devin says:
It's been available in WV since paper stamps were around. Nobody is aware - including sales clerks :(

Posted on May 6, 2012, 4:29:20 AM PDT
Rick B. says:
Very true Devin, it's one of those hidden things that even the States and Counties that issues assistance tend not to tell anyone and you really have to go digging on their websites alot of times to find that in fact you can.
MindfulChick one way you could help spread the word in your community is to call some of the local food banks and see if they know it and if they are helping to spread the word to the people that visit their food banks. It wasn't really a surprise but a lot of them I talked to in my area were not aware of it either.

Posted on May 8, 2012, 7:29:20 AM PDT
Psylocide says:
That's great... however, you can also buy chips, pop, energy drinks, candy, etc.

Such a backwards program, at least there is another item for the "pro" list.

Posted on May 8, 2012, 7:13:29 PM PDT
Jen says:
I told my mom about this and we both think its a great, but my mom had a pretty valid point: Of the people who collect food stamps many are either unable to garden due to disabilities, too busy because of working a lot and/or taking care of their children (such as a low-paid single parent), or too lazy (we have known a few of "those" people). I hope there are people on food stamps who do grow their own vegetables and they really should make that SNAP fact more well known.

We used to grow many types of vegetables when I was little - tomatoes, corn, carrots, etc. If I had an area to garden I'd grow some strawberries and peppers just for convenience and fun, and maybe a mulberry tree because I loved eating those right off the tree many years ago.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2012, 6:42:01 AM PDT
With the help of a neighbor or family member a disabled person can get a reasonable garden growing if they're using the square foot method. Instead of putting the raised beds 6" off of the ground, use cinder blocks or something equally as inexpensive and fill the first 18"-24" with inexpensive soil and the top 6" or so with a good growing medium. A person in a wheel chair can reach down and handle the plants and reach up to pick the fruits and veggies, they just have to plant things that aren't too tall unless there is someone around to reach them. Likewise, a few hours of work by an adult can put in a garden and children can be taught to care for the plants.

In reply to an earlier post on May 9, 2012, 11:17:38 AM PDT
Jen says:
All valid points. There is one other problem though - people I've known on the SNAP program have been renters, and the places they lived did not allow for food gardens (some didn't even allow flowers). Maybe some places have a community garden area, but that was not an option for where these people lived.

My neighbor right now is on the SNAP program and I had told her if she wanted to plant some vegetables in the weed area we are clearing in front of our two townhouses she could, but she will never do it. Whether or not the owners of the complex would allow vegetables, I'm not sure. I'm not even sure if they will be happy about the perennials I planted. My neighbor wants the area to look nicer than it was and this year I wanted to plant flowers (last year I was too busy with a puppy), but she isn't contributing too much aside from raking. I'll have to tell her that she can get vegetable plants with her food stamps and I can help her, though my knowledge of food plants is nowhere near my knowledge of decorative plants. My main concerns about the plants would be lack of sunlight (area is mostly shade), kids, vandalism, theft, and stink bugs. Meanwhile, I am trying to teach her daughter a little about plants so she has something to take pride in and she will hopefully discourage her friends (and herself) from stepping on my flowers.

Posted on May 10, 2012, 1:45:41 AM PDT
Rick B. says:
Jen a good place to check is on Youtube and other sources on the internet for indoor container gardens for your neighbor, granted they probably are'bt going to be growing corn or the likes, but leaf lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries. etc. are relatively easy to grow indoor as growing flowers indoors, then no worries about vandals and bugs and such.

In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2012, 5:15:12 PM PDT
Hedda says:
Good idea, Rick B. I will make some calls tomorrow.

Jen, container gardening is easy and most anything can be reused as planter. Heck, you can even poke drainage holes in a soil bag and grow stuff right in the bag. Some nurseries-especially independently owned-will let people have black nursery containers for free. The folks who really want to do it will find a way.

Posted on May 14, 2012, 6:00:15 PM PDT
Jen says:
Kind of takes me back to one of my original points: laziness. My neighbor won't bother because she's too lazy, even though she knows I would help her. Of course I wouldn't look forward to fighting the stink bugs in the garden in addition to the current war I'm fighting with them in my bedroom, but I'd help her. Still, that's good info for those who do take advantage of that secret part of the SNAP program.

As for indoor gardening, bugs would still be a problem in the complex where I live. The place is pathetic when it comes to insulation and sealed windows. I've been killing about 3 stink bugs a day (on average) for the past few weeks. I hate those dang things. But I'm only living here for a short time because we are new to the area and hope to buy a house, many others live here because they can get Section 8 help. We just wanted an affordable, safe place that allowed pets until we could get familiar with the town and surrounding areas.

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012, 7:11:12 PM PDT
Swedey says:
Of course a segment of the population won't see the value in gardening or are physically unable to do so. My posting this isn't for them. It's for the other segment, the working poor who might want to give a potentially rewarding project a start.

Posted on May 17, 2012, 4:43:53 PM PDT
I knew about this while I was receiving Food Stamps; unfortunately our landlord wouldn't allow us to plant a garden, so I just made a GIANT compost bin with the 6x6 bed my dad built me. That 6x6 patch of ground is probably incredibly fertile now, even after we hauled all of that beautiful humus away when we bought our home.

I am now the 9-month-pregnant facilitator of a beautiful garden set-up of raised beds, fertile soil, recycled containers, and vertical grow-spaces. We moved at the end of the last growing season and now that I'm pregnant, I figured it would be a great time to start everything from seed and go-go-go!

Anyway. I really wanted to take advantage of the ability to take assistance and provide for my family in a super healthy way; I bought a few basil plants that were easy to care for inside, but other than that, I wasn't able to. I thought it was a really great way to get people seriously involved in their betterment through healthy alternatives. I know many families that because they have so many children but have fallen on hard times have to make their SNAP benefits last buy purchasing frozen dinners for pennies on the dollar.

Anyway, thanks for sharing this. More people need to know!

Posted on May 17, 2012, 6:47:40 PM PDT
JP says:
Thank you for posting this info. I know that I am definitely passing it on and wish I had known long ago. I can't believe they don't make this info more accessible. I know a lot about public assistance, but I've NEVER heard about this opportunity. Frankly, it makes me kind of angry. Knowledge is power, and call me crazy, but maybe there's a reason it's not common knowledge.

I think a barrier to taking advantage of it is a general lack of info about gardening, an ignorance about how easily one can utilize containers, etc. to grow just about anything in a relatively small space. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and put things off when you don't know how to do something (for anyone, not just those on food stamps).

Thanks again for this post. I might even shoot an email to the local news to see if they'll do a piece and try to reach more people, along with cheap, simple garden tips. I think we all deserve access to healthy food and learning ways to become self sufficient is empowering.

Posted on May 18, 2012, 8:03:33 AM PDT
sirdeth says:
Well this is great news! I am one of "those " people , the untouchable undesirable dregs of society, i was deliberately hit by a carload of illegal aliens while riding my bicycle to work, my spine was severely damaged ( luckily not paralyzed) and many other parts of my body we're damaged as i slid and rolled across 4 lanes of traffic, my productive happy taxpayer 20+ year life and career ended that day, now after surgeries, years of physical therapy and fighting with my family about going on disability ( i sold my cars,home savings and all my property) i reduced my net worth to nothing and was living in my mother's shed, i finally gave in and filled out the application, ( i was very prideful then) in the years that followed i have learned how to garden, (raised beds and coffee containers) also how to can and preserve, i make everything from scratch including bread, tortillas cheese, yogurt, etc,etc, it takes most all my time on my good days,
But its the only way to survive on food stamps, i don't know how people can make it thru a month being lazy and buying "rich people "foods like pre made bread, cereal, pizza soda, candy etc, i have not purchased or had those things in years, my family has donated time and items like seeds,soil and so forth,
Being able to buy seeds and starts with snap will be a serious boon to my food production, this is great news! For people that can't put plants outside in the past i have been able to produce veggies for salads buy placing a table by a window and supplementing the sun with several compact fluorescent light bulbs and the long tube t5 florescent lamps they are cheap, and very low cost to run
remember not all people on assistance are low life users that don't want to work, if i could work i would fly out that door every day, life was much better on a work income, its so much harder with little joy, on disability, imagine having to budget and save money from month to month to buy things like toilet paper, shampoo, laundry soap, it isn't easy my friend's

Posted on May 18, 2012, 1:51:02 PM PDT
Jen says:
Sirdeth, we need more people like you. This is exactly why I am for government programs like SNAP. There are people out there who really need help for REAL reasons. Some in my current neighborhood are on various programs and I doubt most of them actually NEED to be (like my neighbor, who told me she felt the government owed her after she worked her "whole life until [she] was 30"). Same goes with a few on my father's side of the family - collecting government money because they are too lazy to work. I've always been for food stamps and Welfare simply because there are people out there who really need help, maybe some made a few bad choices while others had tragedies beyond their control (permanent injuries, the death of a spouse, etc). It is unfortunate so many abuse the system when they really don't need it.

Posted on May 18, 2012, 2:59:17 PM PDT
sirdeth says:
Thank you Jen, I know there are abusers of all systems in the country, from the very tippy top so called 5% Res to the bottom rung of or society, but the truth is at least in my opinion, we as a culture need these programs, it keeps ppl content not happy mind you but imagine if all programs we're stopped,, there would be massive country wide rioting, looting, killing crime to the nth degree! When ppl have nothing more to lose they are much more inclined to just go take what they want and need,from the desperate father needing food for his children to the crack addicted fiend in need of a fix, the very wealthy understand this concept you give society some scraps and a sense of dignity you insure your own safety and fortune,
we live in a land of oppertunity for many, unfortunately the demographic is changing, the rich truly do get richer, the middle class are disappearing, and the poor are rising at terrifying rates, i went from a very comfortable income to nothing in 2 years i sold everything I owned to stay afloat and pay medical expenses, without social security and food stamps i would most likely be dead or homeless hobbling around in the streets ! And that's no exaggeration, I'm to pridefull and refuse to be a burden to my family, I did pay into so sec for decades so having that as a backup really did save my life, i also volunteered $ and time to the elderly and homeless before all this, i still do donate surplus crops to my local soup kitchen, last year it was 78 huge cucumbers and a few hundred jalepeno peppers, not much but it's better than letting them go to waste.
Ok I'm stepping down from my proverbial soapbox

In reply to an earlier post on May 18, 2012, 6:43:57 PM PDT
Swedey says:
Google perennial vegetables and perhaps you could grow some varieties that would add or build up your food supply. Herbs too could add to your standard of living. Basil is very easy to grow although it doesn't like heat. Some herbs could be dried for teas too. Get good at it and you could make Christmas presents out of it.

Homemade tea is a great gift.

In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012, 3:09:11 PM PDT
ghdragonfly says:
I am lucky to have help for my garden and share the rewards. An option for those who are disabled or have other time/space limitations such as apartments or work is to partner with someone locally. You may meet other folks with different limitations in your neighborhood or at a church or community meal. You might find a disabled person who could use more food and might have partial abilities and a little time on their hands, or a person living alone with a small yard but not enough help to care for it. I wish I could classify myself as the working poor, and maybe someday I will again. I did container gardening from a wheelchair until my landlord saw proof I would care enough and have enough help to keep an outdoor garden tidy, and until my health improved enough to walk and to work outdoors 5 or 10 min at a time a few times a day. I take advantage of the SNAP garden benefits and have found some stores' registers do not ring my plants as eligible. A quick mention to the clerk and customer service corrects my receipt and brings it to the attention of the manager, who can correct their computers. Wal-mart is a great place to get cheap seeds and plants on stamps, but to deter bringing home common diseases, we work mostly from seed. Keep in mind too that not all stores take SNAP cards - at Home Depot for instance it's cash only for plants and seeds. I am also allergic to UV - exposure to the sun causes severe rash and illness for hours or days. I am lucky to have help for the hard/heavy stuff, and for those weeks when I'm not well enough to go outside and water. I garden outdoors when I'm able from 4AM-6AM and/or 7PM-midnight. With intermittent rest, I can accompish an hour's light labor in three to five hours. I invest in soft mats to sit on, tools that are easy on the hands, rolling carts. I pull stuff around on a plastic sled and have chairs and resting spots in every corner of the yard. It is well worth it to my budget. It takes some commitment, food doesn't always just grow on trees without a little care. I would like to remind that there are many kinds of disabilities and many kinds of working poor. As a disabled single mother who didn't qualify for employment, I still worked pretty hard. But where there's a will, there's a way. Happy gardening!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 2, 2012, 12:43:34 AM PDT
Swedey says:
What a great post Moonlight gardener. You are an inspiration. Right now we are harvesting and eating beets, zucchini, peppers, greens, broccoli, tomatoes and more. It saves so much on my food bill.

I like your idea of partnering. Partnering is helpful when processing or preserving the food as well.
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Initial post:  Apr 28, 2012
Latest post:  Aug 28, 2012

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