Fresh Bucks helping Casa Latina clients eat healthier

Clients at Casa Latina recently had front row seats to a live cooking class as they learned about healthy, affordable meals on a budget. And now, buying fruits and vegetables to make healthy meals for their families just got easier thanks to a partnership between Casa Latina and the Fresh Bucks program.

The Fresh Bucks program is working with Casa Latina to provide Fresh Bucks vouchers for Casa Latina clients to buy high-quality, local produce from any of the 33 farmers markets or six neighborhood grocery stores participating in the Fresh Bucks program in Seattle and King County.

Casa Latina, an immigrant worker rights organization, empowers low-wage Latino immigrants with knowledge and resources to achieve their goals. Araceli Hernandez, Director of Day Worker Center at Casa Latina says, “Our clients face a number of barriers when it comes to accessing federal resources and we work to identify and address gaps— such as food insecurity—that are disproportionally affecting our community. Partnering with the Fresh Bucks program gives our clients the ability to choose healthy foods, regardless of income.”

This year, Fresh Bucks is serving more shoppers by expanding the program from EBT/SNAP (food stamp) recipients to also providing the benefit to families who may not meet the federal requirements for food assistance programs, but still face hardships when it comes covering their food expenses. This expansion is made possible through funding from the City of Seattle Sweetened Beverage Tax.

“This program allows me to stretch my dollar,” said a program participant. “Buying fresh fruits and vegetables can be expensive, but with this support, I can now regularly visit the farmers market to get my produce, and the kids love going too. I want to teach them what I’ve learned about cooking with fresh ingredients.”

Shoppers can use Fresh Bucks at 33 farmers markets in Seattle and King County, as well as six, ethnic grocery stores open year-round. To find participating locations or to find out more about the Fresh Bucks program, visit the Fresh Bucks website.

Got Oil? Now’s the Best Time to Ditch It

If you’re still heating your home with oil, the City of Seattle is offering an instant rebate up to $2,000 right now through the end of 2018 to switch to an energy-efficient heat pump. Here are several reasons why now is the best time to make the switch:

  1. Heat pumps provide year-round comfort, which includes air-conditioning. And, since you need to heat your home in the winter anyway, why not invest in a system that provides air-conditioning too? No more sleepless nights this summer!
  2. Heating oil is not friendly to the environment. Burning fossil fuels emits carbon pollution which contributes to global warming.  In addition, underground oil tanks leak over time and can contaminate soil and groundwater.
  3. Seattle’s electricity is local and clean. Did you know that Seattle City Light provides carbon neutral electricity?
  4. Heating oil is expensive. Oil prices are volatile and you’re likely to pay a full heating season’s worth of oil all at one time. Heat pumps save about 50% of your heating costs.
  5. The heating season is the busiest season for contractors – by installing a heat pump in the off-season you have more time to get additional bids and to coordinate your project – plus you’ll be well prepared when winter arrives.
  6. Once you have switch to clean electricity to heat and cool your home, you’ll be eligible for Seattle City Light’s insulation and window rebates.

For more information about the City of Seattle’s Oil Conversion Rebate Program visit www.NoMoreOilHeat.com or contact Christine Bunch, Christine.bunch@seattle.gov, 206-615-1633

Unlimited Fresh Bucks Match Now Available

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.

 

Seattle City (spot)Light: Keith Osborne

This September will mark Keith Osborne’s third year with City Light. As part of the safety unit, Keith is the utility’s Ergonomist. “I develop the process, handle the assessments, visit the sites (both field and office), make recommendations, build metrics and manage the operations of it all,” he explained.

Born near Chicago (look for the Blackhawks banner at his workstation), Keith lives in Bremerton with his wife Linda where they enjoy the quiet setting. “We really like to spend time in our backyard,” he shared. “It’s our own little oasis.” Before moving to Washington, they lived in Colorado, but not before Keith served 25 years in the United States Army. “The military was great. I would not be who I am and where I am now if it wasn’t for the military,” Keith said. “I would do it all over again.” He also holds two bachelor degrees — one in applied management and the other in business administration — from National American University along with a dozen certifications. In this week’s (spot)Light, Keith shares how his interests and career blend together.

Keith with his wife Linda at Ocean Shores, one of their favorite places to visit

“I had a lot of injuries when I was in the military and know what it’s like to work through pain. The ability to lessen the injuries or discomfort of others was appealing so I volunteered to lead the ergonomics and wellness program at my last job. I became a certified specialist. I was already certified as a master fitness trainer and corporate wellness specialist which also complements this line of work.”

“When I meet with employees it’s often ‘This the job I’m doing. These are the tasks I’m completing. This is the chair that I’m sitting in. Can you look at these to see if a) I’m doing it correctly and b) if anything needs improvement?’ Productivity is huge. People are more productive when they’re comfortable. We have an online assessment tool that folks can take. I review their assessment and schedule an appointment which will determine what’s needed whether it’s a different chair, keyboard, computer mouse, desk etc. We also spend some time discussing how they interact with their workstation.”

“It’s important to be active. That’s one focus of my job, encouraging folks to move throughout the day, but it’s also something I practice in my personal life. In my garage, I have a treadmill and TRX bands that are suspended by support beams. I like to get outside, too. My wife and I go hiking and camping. Golf is another hobby of mine. I also enjoy learning about military history.”

“I moved here three years ago and love it. The climate, the energy. I take walks during the day to absorb it all. Our favorite place in Seattle is the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Ivar’s on the Pier and the Seattle Art Museum are also popular places with us.”

“I’m glad I work for this city. It’s been a great experience. People have been energized in wanting to get involved with the ergonomics process and growing it. Hopefully, we can keep getting good results, drive down the injury rates and make a good impact on this organization.”

How Seattle is Preparing for Climate Impacts

While we are used to the occasional short heat wave in Seattle, this most recent one has certainly been longer than usual and made worse by the smoke from the British Columbia wildfires. Unfortunately, our changing climate means we can expect more extreme heat events like these along with a greater risk of wildfires as well. How will we handle these changes in the future?

Photo Source: accuweather.com

OSE recently released the City’s climate preparedness strategy—Preparing for Climate Change —which highlights the range of impacts we expect to see as a result of climate change, including increased heat and flooding, and lays out the actions we will take as a result.

One of the most important things we can do to reduce the impacts of climate change is to reduce our carbon footprint. By using clean and carbon neutral electricity to heat our homes rather than fossil fuels, taking the bus instead of driving, and driving electric when we have to drive, we can all do our part to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Now is a great time to switch out oil or gas heat to a clean, carbon neutral electric heat pump which will also provide air conditioning. The City of Seattle offers up to $2,000 in rebates when you ditch dirty oil and switch to a heat pump. Additionally, if you heat your home with inefficient electric baseboards or an electric furnace, consider going with an electric heat pump and take advantage of Seattle City Light’s rebate.