By Maria Hines, chef and owner of Tilth, Golden Beetle and Agrodolce restaurants
Imagine what it would be like if every day you woke up to a hungry family and knew you had to provide them with breakfast, lunch and dinner, but with only a budget of $6 a person? How heavy would your heart be when, after giving your son his $6 worth, you looked into his eyes and realized that he is still hungry? Still lacking the nutrition needed to think clearly in school, grow strong, and feel healthy.
For more than a million people in Washington State, this imagination is a reality. These families – working mothers, father, sons and daughters – receive food stamps (now knows as SNAP benefits) and must turn that into healthy, fulfilling meals.
Last year, the City of Seattle and the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance piloted a program designed to help SNAP recipients stretch their benefits further when purchasing healthy and nutritious ingredients. Fifteen hundred Seattle families received $2 for every $1 of SNAP spent at a farmers market. For many, it was the first time they had access to high-quality ingredients. As a result of Fresh Bucks, 85 percent of shoppers said they ate more fruits and vegetables. Plus, the increase in customers meant more sales for local farmers, who reported a $70,000 increase in sales.
Now, the challenge is to continue the momentum of this progress. Fresh Bucks is a public-private partnership. The City of Seattle, JPMorgan Chase, and The Seattle Foundation are committed to scaling up Fresh Bucks in 2013. With your help, we can bring Fresh Bucks to all Seattle Farmers Markets in 2013!
Your contributions will directly enable a low-income Seattle resident to put healthy food on his or her table. Make a contribution to Fresh Bucks today, during The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBIG event. All contributions will be stretched by the Seattle Foundation, and contributions of $100 to $5000 will be matched 100% by an anonymous supporter.
As a chef and restaurant owner, eating nutritious organic food is a passion for me. Recently, I challenged myself to the SNAP budget ($6 per person, per day) for 30 days. Within the first week, I was deeply humbled. Filling a basket with the USDA recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and staying under budget was extremely difficult. Finding local foods in a large, budget-oriented grocery chain was equally hard. When you add the cost of sustainable foods, the challenge became almost impossible.
Fresh Bucks goes a long way in helping low-income parents provide better nutrition for their children. Please pledge to help expand this program. Donate now through the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, and write ‘Fresh Bucks’ in the comments box.
Thank you so much for your commitment to help feeding Seattle’s families, and help growing our communities.