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Low-Income Residents Eat Healthier with Seattle’s “Fresh Bucks” Program

FreshBucks_LogoSEATTLE – Building on a successful pilot in 2012, the City of Seattle—in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, The Seattle Foundation, and seventeen farmers markets and farm stands around Seattle—has launched an expanded Fresh Bucks program that will run from July through October 2013. Fresh Bucks doubles the value of produce purchases made with SNAP electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards at all Seattle Farmers Markets. EBT users 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.

For low-income individuals, cost is a barrier to eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Fresh Bucks helps reduce that burden while supporting the local economy. The 2012 Fresh Bucks pilot, developed and managed in partnership with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA), was featured at seven NFMA Farmers Markets and yielded the following results:

  • Nearly 1500 low-income shoppers, including 900 who had never shopped at Farmers Markets before, purchased fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets.
  • Eighty-five percent of shoppers surveyed said they had increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables as a result of Fresh Bucks.
  • Provided an economic stimulus to local businesses. Using the USDA’s economic multiplier for SNAP, the $55,000 invested in Fresh Bucks in 2012 generated $125,300 in local stimulus to the economy.

“Everyone in Seattle deserves access to healthy, fresh, food, no matter how much money they make” said Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. “Fresh Bucks makes it easier for Seattle families to eat well. Keeping Seattle healthy means a stronger workforce, lower health care costs, and improved quality of life for everyone.”

“Hundreds of residents signed a petition to support the Fresh Bucks Program,” said Councilmember Richard Conlin. “This program is a great example of how we can work together with private philanthropy to make healthy and local food available to more Seattle residents.”

JP Morgan Chase and The Seattle Foundation provided funding for the pilot program and for the 2013 program expansion. The Seattle City Council also designated funding for the Fresh Bucks 2013 program. The Washington State Farmers Market Association provided program development support and is providing coordination and technical assistance for the expansion.

“What we love about the program is that it extends the purchasing power of individuals while increasing revenue for local farmers. Growing the program to include 17 Farmers Markets and farm stands means greater access for more families, which will have a greater economic impact for local farm businesses,” said Cree Zischke, Regional Executive of Global Philanthropy for JPMorgan Chase. “We are pleased to support the development and expansion of this initiative with a $195,000 investment. It’s a win-win for the entire community.”

“The Fresh Bucks program is part of the City’s overall effort to create a healthier and more just food system in Seattle,” said Council President Sally Clark. “This program is one of several initiatives identified in the Food Action Plan that aim to increase access to healthy food for all Seattle residents.”FreshBucks_Logo

The program will be offered at Farmers Markets and farm stands operated by the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, Pike Place Market, the Seattle Farmers Market Association, Queen Anne Farmers Market, and the P-Patch Market Gardening Program. The following Farmer’s Markets and farm stands are participating in the program:

  • Ballard  – Sundays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Broadway  – Sundays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • City Hall  – Tuesdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Columbia City – Wednesdays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m
  • High Point Farm Stand  – Wednesdays 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Lake City  – Thursdays, 2:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
  • Madrona  – Fridays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Magnolia  – Saturdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • New Holly Farm Stand  – Fridays 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Phinney  – Fridays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Pike Place Market  – Farmers Market: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 8 a.m-4 p.m.
  • Pioneer Square  – Wednesdays 10 p.m.
  • Queen Anne Farmer’s Market  – Thursdays, 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • South Lake Union – Thursdays 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • University District  –  Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Wallingford  – Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • West Seattle  – Sundays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

“The 2012 Fresh Bucks pilot was a win for our farmers and a win for low-income shoppers,” said Chris Curtis, executive director of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance. “We are thrilled that the City of Seattle is expanding the program to more markets, and we anticipate seeing even more low-income shoppers using their EBT benefits to purchase healthy produce. This improves the health of our Seattle community, while strengthening the businesses of our regional farmers.”