The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that Washington State will receive nearly $6 million over four years to help increase the amount of fruits and vegetables purchased by people with SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps).
In Seattle, the grant will expand the Fresh Bucks program, created in 2012 by the Office of Sustainability & Environment in partnership with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance. The grant will enable Seattle to engage more low income shoppers and will open the door to more farmers markets and supermarket participation.
Washington State received the largest grant awarded among all 31 projects across the country.
“The Fresh Bucks program is a great way to boost the purchasing power of low income families while also contributing significantly to local businesses,” said Mayor Murray. “Growing this program is a win-win for Seattle residents and our local economy.”
The Fresh Bucks program matches SNAP purchases at farmers markets dollar for dollar, up to $10 per visit. Since Fresh Bucks began, low income shoppers have benefitted from over $220,000 in extra buying power, and 9 out of 10 Fresh Bucks shoppers surveyed report they eat more fruits and vegetables.
“We were proud to partner with JP Morgan Chase to provide seed funds for this program,” said Michael Brown, Vice President of Community Programs at The Seattle Foundation. “We’ve seen its great growth and positive impact for low income people, and we’re pleased USDA wants to invest in our local community to support Fresh Bucks over the next four years.”
“Farmers at our markets love Fresh Bucks because it offers one more way for their food to reach the tables of everyone, regardless of income, who wants to eat healthy food – at the same time putting more money into our farm economy,” said Chris Curtis, executive director of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance.