Fresh Bucks will add 1,000 new customers from the program wait list this October, providing a much needed food benefit as families across the city struggle to meet basic needs. This is in addition to 8,000 households already enrolled.
Fresh Bucks, a healthy food program focused on getting more fruits and vegetables into the hands of families with low incomes, provides enrollees with $40 in monthly benefits to purchase fruits and vegetables from participating Seattle retailers.
Earlier this year Seattle residents applied for Fresh Bucks Vouchers through community enrollment partners or a public lottery application. Fresh Bucks initially enrolled over 8,000 customers and placed 4,800 applications on a waitlist due to limited funding. Now 1,000 families will be moved off the waitlist to receive Fresh Bucks healthy food vouchers. All 2020 customers, including the 1,000 new customers, will receive monthly Fresh Bucks benefits through the end of the program year in May 2021.
This monthly food benefit comes during a particularly difficult time as COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted low-income households and communities of color.
Eliza Guan from InterIm CDA, one of ten Fresh Bucks community partners said, “Fresh Bucks vouchers help our community in a number of ways. Clients are trying new recipes and cooking together in virtual settings, which promotes socialization and community connection. And vouchers are essential in helping families on a tight budget afford healthy food during the pandemic when grocery prices have been on the rise.”
In the Seattle area, food insecurity has nearly doubled in recent months with families reporting they do not have enough to eat or could not afford to buy more food. Enrollment for Basic Food assistance, more commonly known as food stamps, has also increased by 18% among King County residents, or 17,300 households. Latinx, Black, and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander communities have disproportionately sought out food assistance compared to other groups.
“COVID-19 has presented many challenges and we know our community members are experiencing an increased need for food assistance,” said Jessica Finn Coven, Director of the Office of Sustainability and Environment. “Serving an additional 1,000 families with Fresh Bucks benefits will provide relief for families in need while the city continues to coordinate additional support during this ongoing crisis.”
Fresh Bucks is administered by the Office of Sustainability and Environment and funded by Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax (SBT).
Fresh Bucks is one of many programs offering food assistance in the Seattle area. The city has collaborated with partners to provide additional food-related support such as meal sites, food box home delivery, funding for food banks, and more. Families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can visit the Mayor’s COVID-19 Community Resource Page for details, information and web links for City of Seattle, King County, Washington State, federal, and community programs and services.