Many families rely on monthly SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits to help put enough food on the table. However, when people are on a tight food budget, one of the first things that is dropped is fresh fruits and vegetables as they tend to be more expensive than processed food.
To address this challenge, the City of Seattle launched Fresh Bucks in 2012. Since then, shoppers have been able to spend up to $10 in SNAP benefits and receive a $10 match in Fresh Bucks towards their purchase of locally sourced fruits and vegetables at Farmer’s Markets and select retail stores. Fresh Bucks is a solution that helps low-income residents afford healthy foods, diversifies the customer base of farmers markets, and keeps federal food stamp dollars in our regional economy.
The program continues to grow and recently, in response to feedback from Fresh Bucks participants, the City lifted the $10 match limit for Fresh Bucks. Now, shoppers are free to get a match for any amount of SNAP benefits spent purchasing fruits and vegetables.
Sam Kielty, who manages the West Seattle Farmers Market, reports that there has been a noticeable change with shoppers purchasing more fruits and vegetables. At the Farmers Market info booth, shoppers have a chance to share their Fresh Bucks story if they choose. Sam shared a story submitted by “Emily” a single mother who Sam sees often at the West Seattle Farmers Market.
“After my husband died, my car got repossessed and I lost my job. My main worry was being able to afford nutritious food. After receiving SNAP benefits and learning they were accepted at my local farmers market, grocery shopping became a fun and educational outing for my daughter and I. She learns about the farming community. I am assured she’s receiving the freshest food possible.” – Emily
Special thank you to Sam for sharing a great story that highlights the benefits of this great program.