Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



Real innovation for a more sustainable and inclusive food system requires collaboration based on resilient relationships between a diverse range of community partners and across socio-economic boundaries. SNAP incentive programs at farmer’s markets are bridging gaps in food access and sovereignty for thousands of individuals across the country, but what are the far reaching implications of these programs in terms of a sustainable food system, especially in an uncertain economic landscape? Using the findings of a quantitative, interdisciplinary and community inclusive research project of the Community Supported Farmers’ Markets (CSFM), a SNAP incentive program organized by Food and Medicine in Brewer, Maine, this study will explore the role of solidarity between SNAP participants and market vendors as a means of not only gauging the sort of relationship that is being formed between the program’s stakeholders, but also of exploring the implications solidarity has for building community around local food. Is the incentive purely economic, or is this program fostering community ties that can persist through fiscal changes and allow for the collaborative progression of the local food economy? Drawing from a rich literature of the solidarity economy and social capital, this study demonstrates the important role social relationships can play in supporting SNAP incentive programs as the survey results indicate social capital exists between the market vendors and CSFM participants. Though complications with these findings will be discussed, the data highlight important findings that illustrate the importance of market and nonmarket factors that influence and construct people’s food choices.