Montana’s economy depends on the strength of Montana businesses - both large and small, including grocery retailers. Not only do we help ensure that our residents have access to food and other necessities, we also stock local products from our farming and ranching communities. Access to a full-service grocery store, with the availability of fresh, healthy foods is essential to the well-being of a community.
Many people in our communities depend on SNAP dollars to make ends meet at the end of the month and supplement their grocery budgets. SNAP provides critical nutrition for more than 3,500 households each month in Lewis and Clark County. Approximately 750 Montana retailers accept SNAP benefits, including many smaller grocers and a growing number of farmers markets, including the Helena Farmers Market. We are proud to be included in that number.
We are a locally owned grocery store and our SNAP customers help us keep our doors open, so we can support and employ from our local community. SNAP benefits even have a stimulus effect, supporting jobs in grocery stores, food distribution, and food production. Every $1 in SNAP benefits generates $1.50 to $1.80 in local economic activity, as these dollars flow throughout communities.
But more than that, it is important to us that no one in our great state is forced to skip meals or make the impossible choice between putting gas in the car or buying groceries. Local grocery retailers, larger supermarkets, and even gas station convenience stores understand the importance of fighting food insecurity, eliminating food deserts in rural areas, and making sure that all Montanans, including kids, older adults, and people with disabilities have access to nutritious foods.
This legislative session, as we emerge from the pandemic and get our state back on track, we urge our state legislators to support their local retailers, increase access to food for those in need, and show compassion to Montanans suffering through lean times. We encourage our Lewis and Clark County lawmakers to protect access to SNAP and look for ways to strengthen this important program, ensuring that it remains robust and responsive during these challenging times.
Doug Carpenter, Owner
Heritage Food Store IGA