Food & Nutrition Resources
How do I use my EBT at Farmer’s Markets or for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? What is SNAP Market Match?
At more than 100 participating farmers markets and farm stands, customers who use Basic Food/EBT can withdraw EBT funds to use as well as receive SNAP market match to stretch their food budget to buy more fruits and vegetables.
Info booths will have an EBT card reader. You’ll specify the amount of Basic Food you want to withdraw, they will then give you EBT tokens for that amount plus SNAP market match bucks up to the maximum daily amount.
EBT tokens can be used for fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, seeds and plants that produce food, breads, cereals, dairy products, meat, eggs, and fish. Dried, canned, or frozen goods.
SNAP Market Match “dollars” can be redeemed for: fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, herbs, and seeds and plants that produce food.
Click for more info on SNAP Market Match.
Some farms accept EBT for their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. Locally, Viva Farms and Long Hearing Farm are among those that accept Basic Food benefits and offer discounts for Basic Food customers.
At participating stores across the country and participating farmer’s markets and farm stands. If you aren’t sure, ask a store employee or manager if they accept EBT cards.
There is a comprehensive brochure with instructions and FAQs on using your EBT card on the DSHS forms page. You’ll find the brochure near the bottom of the page under Pamphlets. It is also known as Form 22-310.
Most grocery items such as fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, dairy, breads, cereals, snack foods, dry and canned goods, and non-alcoholic beverages are available to buy with your Basic Food benefits. You can even buy seeds and plants that will produce food.
You CANNOT buy: alcohol, tobacco products, vitamins, medicines, supplements, live animals, hot foods, heated food, or cold prepared foods (deli), pet foods, cleaning supplies, paper products, hygiene items, and cosmetics.
The amount of Basic Food you can receive is based on how many people are in your household, your countable income, and monthly living expenses such as housing, utilities, child support, and medical costs. Maximum benefits are:
|Household Size||Maximum Benefit|
If your income goes over the eligibility level, and you forget to report it for a couple of months, you may owe DSHS money back for the benefits you used that you were not eligible for. To avoid this, follow the rules and report any income changes by the 10th of the following month.
You’ll receive benefits if your household is eligible based on your income. Basic Food benefits are certified for up to 12 months. Basic Food households must report when their income increases to over 130% of the federal poverty level. Households do not have to report any other income changes until the mid-certification review (6 months) or eligibility review (12 months). Households must also report any substantial lottery or gambling win. Report changes by the 10th of the following month after the change occurs. Income changes may reduce the Basic Food benefits you receive or disqualify you from benefits if you make over a certain amount.
If you qualify, your benefits start from the date your application is received.
Unfortunately, due to staffing shortages at DSHS, it has been difficult for applicants to get through to DSHS and the wait times on the phone have been long. These tips can help you secure your interview faster:
- Call in the morning right when they open at 8 a.m.
- Avoid calling on Mondays
- Avoid calling the day after a holiday
- Avoid calling on the first and last week of each month
- If you are able, try going in person to your local community services office, locations here.
Generally, Basic Food Applications are processed within 30 days. Depending on circumstances, some households may be eligible to receive basic food benefits within seven calendar days of DSHS receiving your application. Some conditions where you may qualify for expedited service:
- If you have gross monthly income under $150 and have available liquid resources (cash, bank accounts, etc.) of $100 or less
- If you are a migrant or seasonal farm worker household and have available liquid resources of $100 or less
After submitting an application, DSHS requires an eligibility interview by phone or in person to verify the info on your application. During the interview, DSHS will:
- Explain program rules
- Ask you questions about the information on your application
- Ask you for proof of your identity and family income
- Give you a copy of your rights and responsibilities
- Explain the purpose, appropriate use, and penalties of misuse of the Basic Food program
- Answer questions
Firstly, our friendly, non-judgmental staff will work with you and your schedule to fill out the application over the phone. If you get disconnected or need to reschedule, we will accommodate and adjust. We will pre-screen you to determine if you are eligible before we start the application process, which can save you time and energy. We’ll also take the time to answer any questions you may have while we work through the application. Lastly, we can get you information on other programs you may qualify for such as WIC or our Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program.
No, there are several different ways to apply:
- The fastest way is to apply online at washingtonconnection.org. If you call us, this is where we submit your application for you.
- You can also mail in a paper application form to: DSHS Customer Service Center PO Box 11699 Tacoma, WA 98411-6699. Click to access the paper application forms.
- You can go in-person to any DSHS Community Service Office. Click to find DSHS office locations.
- You can call DSHS directly: 877-501-2233. Call line is open 8am-3pm, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.
After submitting an application, DSHS also requires an eligibility interview by phone or in person to verify the info on your application.
For the application you need:
- Your social security number
- Monthly income information for all working individuals in your household
- Employment information for all working individuals in your household
- Monthly housing expenses (rent, mortgage, utilities, car loan payments, medical costs)
During your DSHS interview you’ll need to provide proof of identity which could be any of the following:
- Driver’s License or State ID
- Work or school ID
- Birth certificate
- Voter registration card
- Health benefit card
- A pay stub
If you have none of these things, a DSHS worker can call your employer or a shelter worker.
You’ll also need proof of income (if any) such as a pay stub or a written letter from your employer. If over the phone, the DSHS work may call your employer to verify your income.
Your household size is the number of people you share groceries, cook with, and eat meals together. If you live with housemates, but shop and prepare your meals separately, your housemates are not included in your Basic Food benefits. You should list them on your application, but check the box that says “exclude from benefits.”
Any adult who is enrolled and taking at least six credits (half time) in an institution of higher education is ineligible to receive Basic Food unless they meet one of the exemptions (some listed below):
- Are under 18 or over 50 years of age
- Are employed and working at least 80 hours each month or average 20 hours per week.
- Are self-employed and working an average of 20 hours each week and earn an amount at least equal to federal minimum wage.
- Are responsible for at least half of the care for a dependent
Click for more information about student status.
If you don’t have a permanent address, you may still qualify for Basic Food. You can use the address of an authorized representative as a place to receive mail. If you are staying at a shelter, you can still receive Basic Food even if the shelter provides meals. If you are under 18, homeless, and do not live with your parents or guardian, you can still receive Basic Food.
Undocumented immigrants and people on business, tourist, or student visas are not eligible for Basic Food. If you have children born in the U.S., they are eligible for Basic Food benefits.
You may be eligible if you live in Washington State, have gross income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (see the income chart in the “Who Qualifies for Basic Food” section), and meet citizenship or alien status requirements.
Currently, we have Spanish-speaking staff to assist with applications. The application is available in Cambodian, Chinese, Korean, Laotian, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese on this DSHS webpage.
Find community resources to support you on your path to nourishing your new baby at the Skagit County Lactation Coalition website.
Skagit Nature Rx is offering a new FREE nature walking program. Sign up today for an Out & About—Group Nature Walking program and learn how to maximize the health benefits of nature while exploring beautiful parks and trails across Skagit County. See our Nature Rx webpage for information!
Here are a few ideas to help you get the most fruits and veggies out of your FVRx Bucks:
- Weigh produce sold by the pound to get a rough estimate of the cost.
- Group produce into piles of about $5 to get an idea of the total.
- Shop seasonal and sale produce to get the best flavor and value.
- Consider using your bucks to purchase a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. If you’re interested, call 360-969-7191 ext. 3, or visit the Viva Farms website.
- Buy in bulk if it makes sense for your situation and storage.
- Many stores and farmer’s markets will let you sample produce or give you ideas about how to use items that are unfamiliar to you! Past participants shared how bucks gave them the freedom to try new foods.
- Shop the rainbow! More colors of fruits and veggies means a variety of vitamins and nutrients to keep you healthy.
- It can be helpful to wash and cut up veggies and store them in the fridge. Then you can just grab a healthy snack when hunger strikes.
When using your FVRx Bucks to purchase fresh produce, it is unlikely that your total will be an even number that can be bought using only $5 bills. If, for example, your total comes to $13.02, you have three options:
- Pay the remainder with your own money (use $10 in FVRx Bucks and $3.02 of your own money).
- Use only FVRx Bucks and pay slightly more than the total (use $15 in FVRx Bucks, but receive no change).
- Select a bit more produce to make up the difference (for example, add a couple of apples to your purchase and bring the total to $14.55).
- Go to any participating store or farmers market with your FVRx Bucks.
- Select fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs you want to purchase with your FVRx Bucks. For produce sold by the pound, get a rough estimate of the cost by weighing as you go. This will help you know how many FVRx Bucks you will need to use.
- When checking out, separate the produce you intend to purchase with Bucks from your other groceries, as they will be rung up separately.
- Pay for your fresh produce with FVRx Bucks. Then pay for your other groceries as usual.
- Go home and prepare delicious food with the fresh fruits and vegetables you have purchased!
In many ways, FVRx Bucks are like regular cash. They are a similar size and shape to regular paper money, they are unique and non-replaceable, and they can be used at a participating store or farmers market in place of regular cash. There are, however, a few key differences between regular money and FVRx Bucks:
- Bucks may be spent on all fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs only. Because Skagit FVRx is designed to help participants explore the health benefits and natural flavors of fresh produce, frozen, canned, dried, or otherwise prepared foods are not eligible for purchase with your bucks.
- No change is given for FVRx Bucks. Click here to find out more.
- FVRx Bucks are distributed every month. However, Bucks do not expire until the end of the program (December 2021), so you have plenty of time to shop when it’s convenient for you!
- FVRx Bucks can be used at any participating retail store or farmers markets in Burlington, Concrete, Mount Vernon, or Sedro-Woolley.
Click here for a simple, step-by-step explanation of how to use your FVRx Bucks at the store or farmers market.
Basic Food provides monthly benefits to supplement grocery money while promoting healthy eating and reducing food insecurity. Benefits are automatically loaded onto an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card bi-monthly. EBT cards can be used to buy food at participating grocery stores. For more information, including eligibility and how to apply, visit our Basic Food webpage.
The Viva Farms’ CSA is a subscription to receive weekly boxes of farm-fresh organic produce, grown by the farmers in their program. By joining Viva Farms’ CSA, you are directly contributing to beginning farmers’ success in building viable farm businesses. For more information, visit the Viva Farms website.
Trek for Treasure is a summer adventure program that invites teams of two or more people to complete a series of hikes in the area. Hidden clues at the end of each hike help you solve riddles in your quest to find the hidden treasure! This is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and engage in an active lifestyle. Visit the Trek for Treasure website for more information.
Skagit Gleaners provides fresh and nutritious food to help working families achieve personal financial and health goals. They do this by rescuing and redistributing surplus fresh food to their members. Their market is located at: 1021 Riverside Dr, Mt Vernon. Visit the Skagit Gleaners website for more information.
WIC is for pregnant people, new and breastfeeding moms, and children under 5 years old. If one or more of these applies to you, check the income eligibility chart here, or give us a call us at (360) 854-0435.
We can help you apply for Basic Food over the phone! Just give us a call at (360) 856-2549. If you prefer, you can complete this Basic Food application assistance appointment form to make an appointment for us to call you.
If a Farm to School program has been present for a long period of time, there are significant long-term benefits associated for that school and that community. An established program has rapport among the school district, the teachers, and the students. It is fully integrated into the school day and an expected and anticipated part of the curriculum of each grade. This means every grade has guaranteed experiential, inquiry-based education as part of their school experience. Students understand how to grow and cook their own food, and know exactly where their food comes from. This encourages healthy eating and a more active lifestyle over time, as these students pass this knowledge to their parents, and to their own children as well. The repercussions are ripples of learning and health that extend outward, creating an overall healthier community over time.
Cooking with kids is a complex yet highly rewarding process. The most essential tip we have is to establish clear systems with classes so that kids know exactly what to expect and what to do when it is time to cook. Safety procedures need to be a part of this system, especially when cooking with heat and/or when using any type of sharp utensils. Split the class into groups and have an adult present at each group, especially with younger grades. Make expectations and steps of the process very clear. For younger grades, prepare the recipe step by step with the students, having them take turns to do each step. For older grades, encourage them to split the tasks among themselves so that they are working as a team. Emphasize cleaning up as a group and setting the tables, if possible. Having everyone eat the meal they have made together is a heartwarming finish. It may feel chaotic at first, but once your systems are down and the students know what to expect, it is among the most rewarding and laughter-filled activities one can do with kids. Many of our initial resources came from Edible Schoolyard; adapt to your scenario as you see fit. https://edibleschoolyard.org/curriculum
Any grade can participate in Farm to School! It depends on the school district, the nature of the program, and the relationship the program has with the school and the teachers. In Concrete, we have garden and cooking classes for grades K-8 throughout the school year, and also facilitate hands-on tasks with high school food science and culinary arts classes. In the summers, we run a high school work internship as well as help with summer camps for kids entering grades K-8 in a partnership with Concrete Boys and Girls Club.
Donations to Farm to School are mainly used to help fund running our garden and cooking classes throughout the school year. This includes buying food, kitchen supplies and utensils, seeds and starts for the gardens, and tools for use in the gardens, among many other things. Donations also help fund summer programming and help pay student interns as well as purchase much needed supplies for garden upkeep and school grounds maintenance. Please make an online donation today!
There are multiple volunteer opportunities for Farm to School. You can volunteer to help take care of the school garden care and maintenance, which is especially helpful over weekends and during the summer, when students are not present. You can help out in garden or cooking classes during the school day as an extra adult to help lessons go smoothly. Other opportunities come up throughout the year as well with events or specific needs; contact your Farm to School program coordinator or fill out our volunteer form and we will be in touch!
Farm to School is important for many reasons. It connects kids and communities to where their food comes from, and through growing and cooking their own food, healthier habits are formed. It allows space for experiential, hands-on education outside that is built into the school day. It also creates spaces for teamwork, exploration, collaboration, and inquiry, all of which are essential to the healthy development of children and adolescents.
All of our Farm to School recipes and cooking videos can be found here.
We choose the Harvest of the Month based on seasonality of produce (what’s growing in that particular month!), availability at local farms, and ease of preparation. As we’ve developed relationships with our local farms, it’s been easier to predict which month will have which vegetable!
A good place to start is by reaching out to your school district’s Food Service Director. Keep in mind that this is usually a very busy person, responsible for hundreds or perhaps thousands of meals a day and that they are already doing a good job! School food budgets are also extremely tight, so be aware that they will likely not be able to meet your price point. Nonetheless, working with school meal programs is incredibly rewarding! Concrete students know the day our local farmer runs out of carrots and food service has to go back to buying them from our local distributor because they are less sweet! If you are interested in working with the Concrete or Sedro-Woolley school districts, please contact our program coordinators for more information.
Our vocational program is currently only available to high school students (sophomores or juniors at the time of application) in the Concrete School District. If this is you, please contact the Concrete Farm to School program coordinator for more information. Positions are advertised in the spring at UnitedGeneral.org/Join-Our-Team.
We choose recipes that feature fruits and vegetables as main ingredients, have lots of jobs to involve many students, and can be prepared in a 60-minute class session (including set up, eating, and clean up!). Many of our favorites have been adapted from the Edible Schoolyard, but we’ve also developed our own recipes over the years that coordinate with our garden’s harvest, academic standards, and teacher and student interests. We also cook almost exclusively vegetarian in our classroom.
Our programs are funded through a variety of community, foundational, and federal grants and donations from organizations and individuals. Please see our Partners and Funders for more information.
Maybe it’s already there! Check in with your food service director, school principal, or parent-teacher organization to find out what efforts are already being made to connect students to food and gardening. The National Farm to School Network is a good place to learn more.
Mental Health Promotion Resources
Visit the Suicide Prevention page at the V.A. website for resources on preventing suicide among our veterans.
Agriculture is known to be a dangerous occupation full of potential stressors like weather, changing economic markets, and machinery breakdowns. When these start to compound many farmers experience excessive stress, making it hard to move forward to positive solutions. Click here for information on coping with these stressors.
Find a support group for suicide loss survivors at the Alliance of Hope website.
Find out how to help survivors of suicide at the Suicidology.org website
Healing from a suicide loss can be a long and difficult journey, but you are not alone. Visit the Crisis Connections website. CC Cares is a program for those newly bereaved by suicide from those who have been there.
Visit Harvard’s Means Matter website for information on suicide, guns, and public health.
Visit the Safer Homes, Suicide Aware website – Seattle-based coalition of firearm retailers, Second Amendment rights groups, health care providers, and suicide prevention experts
Visit the Now Matters Now website for skills and support in coping with suicidal thoughts.
Forefront Suicide Prevention is a Center of Excellence at the University of Washington focused on reducing suicide by empowering individuals and communities to take sustainable action, championing systemic change, and restoring hope.
Get 10+ Coping Skills Worksheets for Adults and Youth — click here.