Fresh Access Bucks: Farmers Markets and SNAP Unite

Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers’ approach to addressing food access, affordability and nutrition education is unique in that it works with the full food system from producer to consumer.  With almost five years of experience managing Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) programs at farmers markets, FOG began Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) in 2013.  This program is a statewide incentive program designed to empower Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) recipients to double their benefits at farmers markets, mobile markets and through Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)

locally grown vegetable sign

What is Fresh Access Bucks

Fresh Access Bucks makes fresh, local produce more affordable and accessible to low income families while supporting Florida’s farmers and enhancing our local economies. It does so by increasing the purchasing power of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants by providing a one-to-one match for Florida grown fruits and vegetables. A SNAP cardholder who spends $10 of their SNAP benefits at a participating market receives an additional $10 to purchase fresh, local produce.

Benefits
  • Expands access to affordable health foodsno cash no problem at farmers market
  • Increases fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Enhances local economies, market and farm viability
  • Helps strengthen community

 

History

Fresh Access Bucks began in 2013 with a Specialty Crop Block Grant awarded to Florida Organic Growers by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  In 2015, FOG was awarded the USDA’s new, Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive Program (FINIP) grant in order to serve 50 markets over the next three years.

How it Works
  • 1. Go to the EBT booth at a participating market before you shop. fresh access tokens
  • 2. Swipe your SNAP card and receive double the amount in tokens, up to $20 each market day.
  • 3. Exchange your tokens for SNAP eligible items and Florida-grown fruits and vegetables.

FOG currently has 35 participating markets statewide.  FOG provides training and technical assistance, materials and initial incentive funding to implement the incentive program.  FOG enters into formal contracts with markets managed by well-established organizations, that have the technical capabilities to manage the project finances and reporting.  FOG works closely with local farmers markets and organizations to expand local funding and capacity building opportunities.

The Federal Farm Bill passed in 2014 with significant support for healthy food incentive programs like Fresh Access Bucks.  The USDA’s new Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive Program amounts to $100 million over five years and represents the first time the federal government has supported programs of this type through legislation.  The new and existing markets geographically span from the Pensacola in the Florida Panhandle to Homestead in the South.

If you would like to know more about Fresh Access Bucks, visit www.freshaccessbucks.com or contact your local extension office.

 

 

Jana Hart- Extension Agent- FCS, 4-H

 

 

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