A Seattle city pilot program to make fresh produce more affordable to people on food stamps has been extended to Dec. 31.
Fresh Bucks doubles the value of purchases made at select Seattle farmers markets. Buyers who spend a minimum of $10 on fruits and vegetables using their EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer) cards can receive an additional $10 in Fresh Bucks for more fruits and vegetables at the markets.
The program, which started
Aug. 1, quickly showed 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 Fresh Bucks began, more people on food stamps have shopped at farmers markets, and they’ve purchased more produce than before, program organizers say.
A survey found that 81 percent of market EBT shoppers purchased more fruits and vegetables as a result of Fresh Bucks, and 74 percent of them purchased a greater variety of produce at the market than they have in the past. In addition, 72 percent of surveyed shoppers said Fresh Bucks made a difference in their families’ diets.
To date, the program has distributed the equivalent of $30,000 in Fresh Bucks.
The printed cards are available to EBT cardholders and accepted for payment at farmers markets in the University District, Broadway and West Seattle through the end of the year.
The Office of Sustainability and the Environment partnered with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance to implement the program.
It is funded through a $40,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase, the Seattle Foundation and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
JPMorgan Chase provided additional funding to extend it through the remainder of the year.
Lerman said funding to continue the program could come from a nutrition incentives program in one version of the farm bill now being considered by Congress.