A new program developed by the Seattle Office of Sustainability and the Environment is making local fruits and vegetables more affordable to those using food stamps.
Fresh Bucks doubles the value of purchases made at select Seattle farmers markets. Those who spend a minimum of $10 on fruits and veggies using their EBT cards will receive an additional $10 in Fresh Bucks for more fruits and vegetables at the markets.
The printed cards are available to EBT cardholders and accepted for payment at the following farmers markets: Columbia City, Lake City, Phinney, University District, Magnolia, Broadway and West Seattle.
The program, which began Aug. 1, has already produced results. In the first two weeks, 150 EBT cardholders purchased food at farmers markets for the first time, said Sharon Lerman, food policy advisor for the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. Since the program began, more people have also used food stamps at farmers markets throughout the city, she said.
The program is funded through a $40,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase, the Seattle Foundation and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. Fresh Bucks will continue through Oct.1.
The Office of Sustainability and the Environment partnered with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NFMA) to help implement the program.
“Anytime we can help get more
local food to more people, we want to be a part of that,” said Chris Curtis, director of the NFMA.
Curtis said that along with providing incentive for EBT cardholders to purchase more fruits and vegetables, Fresh Bucks benefits small businesses.
“All this money is staying in the local farm economy,” she said.
Lerman said she hopes the program can eventually become year-round and be available at all farmers markets in Seattle.