MISSOULA – As part of an ongoing effort to address food insecurity, UM Dining at the University of Montana has successfully completed the process to make The Market an approved Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, retailer.
SNAP participants can now use their electronic benefit cards (EBT) to purchase a variety of grocery items at the convenience/grocery store located in the University Center.
SNAP provides monthly assistance to low-income families and individuals via a declining-balance debit card, which can be used to buy groceries at approved locations.
Trevor Lowell, UM Dining’s sustainability director, began the process of obtaining approval for the store early this year. The process involved submitting an application with Food and Nutrition Services, the federal agency that oversees SNAP. FNS conducted an in-store inspection to verify The Market met the stocking requirements. Lowell also developed a training plan to insure The Market staff understand the guidelines of the program and are capable of assisting SNAP customers.
“SNAP is an important tool for people who are struggling to meet their food and nutrition needs, and we know that many UM students are dealing with those challenges,” Lowell explained. “We hope that adding it as a payment option in The Market helps make their lives a little easier.”
The Market is the campus food service’s second operation to become an official SNAP retailer. The Corner Store, UM Dining’s convenience store on the west side of campus, has been an approved SNAP location for three years. Both The Corner Store and The Market offer fresh produce and nutritious items that qualify for purchase under the program guidelines.
SNAP eligibility is determined based on a number of factors, including income, assets and household size. Information about the program and eligibility can be found on the Montana Department of Health and Human Services website at https://dphhs.mt.gov/hcsd/SNAP, or by calling 1-888-706-1535.
“Many students assume they don’t qualify for SNAP and never bother to apply. The reality is that many of them likely do and could benefit tremendously from the program,” Lowell said. He and other UM Dining leadership hope their promotion of SNAP through The Market might encourage students to consider the program as an important resource.