Fresh Bucks: Double Your EBT Dollars at Seattle Farmers Markets

The popular Fresh Bucks program has returned for a third season at all Seattle farmers markets and two farm stands. Fresh Bucks gives low-income shoppers using Basic Food benefits (SNAP/food stamps) more buying power to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. In doing so, Fresh Bucks allows low-income shoppers to purchase the healthiest, freshest options without breaking the bank.

"Patients of our clinic are thrilled to be able to double their options for access to fruit and vegetables," said Neighborcare Health community health education coordinator Shannon Bailey. "Fresh Bucks makes the conversation about healthy eating more realistic. It's gratifying and encouraging to know that health is improved by this wonderful program."

The program is a collaborative effort between the Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, the Washington State Farmers Market Association (WSFMA), and Seattle farmers markets and farm stands.

The Fresh Bucks match, provided at point-of-sale for all Basic Food/SNAP shoppers once per market day, offers participants a dollar-for-dollar match up to $10 to spend on produce purchases—increasing access to fresh, healthy foods, while also putting more dollars directly in the pockets of our region's farmers.

"The Fresh Bucks program added over $60,000 in sales of fruits and vegetables in just six months last year," says WSFMA executive director Karen Kinney. "This kind of programming helps farmers markets continue to be vibrant places to find fresh, local food by increasing purchasing power for more shoppers."

A pilot program launched at seven Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance farmers markets in 2012. Fresh Bucks begins its third season two months earlier in 2014 (May instead of July) with continued funding from the Chase and Seattle Foundations and the City of Seattle.

The program runs until December. The extended season increases both duration and variety of access for Seattle's low-income residents, building upon the success of last year's Fresh Bucks season.

A UW Center for Public Health Nutrition 2013 evaluation found that:

  • Of the 2,500 low-income shoppers who used the program in 2013, more than 1,200 had never before shopped at a farmers market.
  • Between July and December 2013 at Seattle farmers markets, 6,600 transactions yielded $89,500 in Basic Food/SNAP, matched by $62,300 in Fresh Bucks.
  • 90 percent of Fresh Bucks shoppers surveyed said that they increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables as a result of Fresh Bucks.
  • 94 percent of Fresh Bucks shoppers surveyed said that Fresh Bucks made a difference in their families' diets.

The 2014 Fresh Bucks season will be offered at farmers markets and farm stands in north Seattle (5), central Seattle (9), and south Seattle (4). For a complete list, with days, times, and locations, visit visit www.wafarmersmarkets.com/foodaccess/freshbucks For more information, e-mail freshbucks@wafarmersmarkets.com.