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“Fresh Bucks” Program Gives Low Income Residents a Healthy Boost!

The City of Seattle Office of Sustainability & Environment is strengthening equal access to local and healthy foods with the Fresh Bucks pilot program. The program, a partnership with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA), will double the value of purchases made with SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards at select Farmers Markets starting Wednesday, August 1, 2012, through Monday, October 1, 2012.  All EBT cardholders will receive $10 in Fresh Bucks per day for the purchase of fruits and vegetables when they purchase a minimum of $10 with their EBT card. The following Farmer’s Markets are participating in the program:

  • Columbia City (Wednesdays, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)
  • Lake City (Thursdays, 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)
  • Phinney (Fridays, 3:00 am -7:00 p.m.
  • University District (Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.)
  • Magnolia (Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.)
  • Broadway (Sundays, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)
  • West Seattle (Sundays, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.)

Funding for the Fresh Bucks pilot program is provided by JP Morgan Chase, the Seattle Foundation, and the WSDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

“Everyone in Seattle deserves access to healthy, fresh, affordable food,” said Seattle Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith. “Fresh Bucks increases the purchasing power of low-income Seattle residents while introducing new customers to the small and mid-size farmers who sell at our farmers markets.”

The cost of fruits and vegetables has been identified as a barrier to consuming recommended amounts of healthy food for low-income communities.  The Fresh Bucks program addresses this barrier as well as generates economic stimulus by keeping federal nutrition benefit funds within local and regional communities.  A study by Moody’s Economy showed that an increase of SNAP/Food Stamp benefits by $1 creates a “ripple effect through the economy,” resulting in $1.73 in economic stimulus.

“Seattle residents have been able use their EBT at Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance markets since 1995,” said Chris Curtis, executive director of the NFMA. “Now, with the Fresh Bucks bonus program, people have a greater opportunity and incentive to use their benefits to purchase healthy produce.”