The Fresh Bucks incentive program provides up to a $10 fresh fruit and vegetable bonus match (for a minimum of $10 of EBT/SNAP benefits redeemed) at all seven of our Farmers Markets. This program is now available at all Seattle Farmers Markets, year-round!
How it works: When you swipe your EBT (SNAP) card at the farmers market information booth, you will be given a match of up to $10 in Fresh Bucks for the first $10 of EBT you redeem per market day.
Program History: We have been self-funding short term EBT bonuses since 2008. During the 2012 farmers market season, the City of Seattle's Office of Sustainability & Environment partnered with the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance to pilot a larger-scale version of our incentive program. We started this bonus program initially to raise awareness about our farmers markets' EBT program, and to give a small bonus to our EBT shoppers. From that early effort, we've created a replicable model that is now offered city-wide and will soon be statewide. We provided consultation and support for the State of Washington to apply for a Food Insecurities and Nutrition Incentive grant through the USDA and our state received one of the highest grant awards because of the groundwork that had been laid and the data that had been collected.
Pictured above: Wooden EBT Tokens (center) and Fresh Bucks vouchers (right)
It's easy to use your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT/SNAP/Basic Food) card to buy fresh, healthy food at the Farmers Markets. At the market information booth, the market staff will swipe your EBT card for the amount you request. You will then be given wooden market tokens to buy anything except cut flowers, alcohol, and ready to eat foods. The tokens never expire and can be used at all 7 of our farmers markets at any time. For information on applying for EBT benefits call 1.877.501.2233 or click here.
WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP)
WIC FMNP checks are specifically for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets. You can use your WIC FMNP checks at any of our farmers markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables (note that no cash change is given - you have to spend the entire amount of the check). Look for farm booths with the posted WIC signage (below). For more information about WIC FMNP, please call 1-800-841-1410 or click here.
To be eligible for Senior FMNP, you must be 60 or older and have an annual income below 185% of the Federal Poverty Level. You can use your Senior FMNP coupons at any of our Farmers Markets to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. (No change is given.) Applications are available each spring from the Seattle/King County Office of Aging and Disability Services and are due by May 15. For more information, please call Senior Information and Services at 206-448-3110 or click here.
WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs are sponsored by the US Dept of Agriculture; the WA State Dept of Health, Community Wellness and Prevention; and the WA State Dept of Social and Health Services, Aging and Disability Services Administration.
Helping Harvest Voucher Program
Helping Harvest Vouchers give food bank clients and other resource-challenged people the opportunity to increase the quality, variety and nutritional value of food they eat, while at the same time benefiting local farmers who bring their fresh, healthy, seasonal produce to city farmers markets.
History of the program: Back in the early years of the University District Farmers Market, the staff at the UD Food Bank came up with a brilliant and easy-to-operate idea that would give a little back to the market farmers (who were generously donating fresh, healthy produce to the food bank), and would also help their food bank clients get access to more quality food. They created the “Helping Harvest” voucher program, in which food bank clients are given vouchers to spend like cash at the farmers market to purchase healthy food. The UD Food Bank has secured grant funding for this program every year since then, distributing thousands of $2 vouchers to their clients, and over the years other food banks in Seattle have established their own voucher programs with the NFM markets, securing funding from grants and donors.
If your service organization, charity or food bank is interested in providing Helping Harvest vouchers to your communities or clients, the NFM would be glad to work with you. The process and logistics for making it happen are very simple; the main thing is simply to determine your budget and how many vouchers you would like to distribute.