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Posts Tagged ‘SNAP’

FOG expands technical support to farmers and markets wishing to accept SNAP

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community. We want to thank our Friends of FOG members and donors for their support as they have been vital to our success.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work. 

In October, we were awarded a Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant (FMSSG) to increase the capacity of our Fresh Access Bucks farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps.KYV Farm

Fresh Access Bucks is a statewide incentive program designed to encourage SNAP recipients to redeem their benefits at farmers markets to purchase fresh, healthy foods directly from Florida
farmers. At participating markets, FOG matches what a SNAP cardholder spends with FREE Fresh Access Bucks – up to $20, every market day. Customers can use them right away or later on to buy Florida grown fruits and vegetables. For example, a SNAP shopper who spends $10 of their SNAP benefits at a participating market receives an additional $10 to purchase fresh, local produce.

The grant funding will increase the capacity of 20 Fresh Access Bucks partners managing the participation of SNAP at 29 farmers markets.

It does so by providing each partner with funding to hire part-time staff to manage SNAP activities for the markets. By providing the partners with funding for part-time staff over two years, we anticipate greater SNAP redemption rates at these 29 markets through increased outreach and visibility of the program.

This is huge for our efforts in Florida!

In addition to supporting the establishment, management and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at farmers markets, FMSS grant funds will also expand our technical support to farmers and farmers markets wishing to accept SNAP.

Won’t you join with us as we change Florida’s food landscape?

What moves you to foster change?

As 2015 comes to a close, we want to reflect on our amazing accomplishments this year through our Moving Monday campaign that spotlights how we are changing the food landscape throughout Florida.

Our work has impacted farmers, consumers and the community so we want to thank our Friends of FOG members and donors for their support as they have been vital to our success.

We encourage you to join with us as we continue this invaluable work.

 This past April was an amazing month for FOG as we received a Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant, which supports projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase.

Our proposal, “Fresh Access Bucks: Increasing Food Access And Florida Farmer Sales At Markets Statewide” will serve 50 markets over a 3-year period located in at least 21 counties throughout Florida!

Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) increases the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by enabling farmers markets to accept EBT and allows SNAP users to purchase double-their-food dollars for
fresh, Florida-grown produce at farmers markets. Englewood FM manager Lee and SNAP Manager Amy

Eight months into our project, we have already partnered with 28 markets in low-income communities and work with various community organizations, private businesses, and state and local government agencies to implement this program.

Ultimately, this project will benefit more than 18,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida and will increase farmer revenue by $2.1 million.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than $200,000 was generated in revenue for Florida grown produce, more than 150 Florida farmers participated and expanded to more than 3,000 new market shoppers.

In order to continue to serve communities throughout Florida with various workshops and programs associated with this grant, we need your support!

Join with us as we continue this program and create a sustainable, local, just, organic food and farm system that is environmentally and ethically sound.

 Let’s change the Florida food landscape together!

Florida Organic Growers receives Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has been awarded a Farmers Market SNAP Support Grant (FMSSG) to increase the capacity of their Fresh Access Bucks farmers markets to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps.

Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) 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 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.

The grant funding will increase the capacity of 20 Fresh Access Bucks partners managing the participation of SNAP at 29 farmers markets.

It does so by providing each partner with funding to hire part-time staff to manage SNAP activities for the markets. By providing the partners with funding for part-time staff over two years, Florida Organic Growers anticipates greater SNAP redemption rates at these 29 markets through increased outreach and visibility of the program.

In addition to supporting the establishment, management and promotion of SNAP/Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) services at those markets, FMSS grant funds will also expand Florida Organics Growers’  technical support to farmers and farmers markets wishing to accept SNAP.

“We are thrilled to be able to utilize this grant at 29 of our Fresh Access Bucks markets across the state,” said Fresh Access Bucks Manager Carmen Franz. “To increase the use of SNAP benefits at farmers markets for the purchase of fresh, local, healthy produce is a win-win for both SNAP recipients and our state’s farmers.”

FAB Program

This project benefits more than 5,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida and is expected to increase farmer revenue by $580,000 over two years by expanding the ability of these partners to implement SNAP activities, hiring a part-time Fresh Access Bucks assistant to expand technical support to farmers and farmers markets wishing to accept SNAP and increase Florida Organics Growers’ capacity to manage the Fresh Access Bucks incentive network statewide.

For more information on Fresh Access Bucks and the participating markets around the state, please visit the Florida Organic Growers website.

FOG kicks off growing season by providing Fresh Access Bucks to communities around Florida

Program expands access to healthy food for low-income families

Florida Organic Growers is kicking off the growing season by partnering with farmers markets around the state to provide Fresh Access Bucks, a program that expands access to healthy food for low-income families.

Currently, there are 23 farmers markets participating in the program.

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.

FAB Program

This past April, FOG, the organization that created that program, was awarded the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant to continue providing FAB to communities in Florida. Through the grant, FAB will serve 50 markets over a 3-year period located in at least 21 counties throughout Florida. FOG works in partnership with markets in low-income communities, supportive community organizations, private businesses, and state and local government agencies to implement this program.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than $200,000 was generated in revenue for Florida grown fruits and vegetables, more than 150 Florida farmers participated and expanded to more than 3,000 new market shoppers. This project will benefit more than 18,000 SNAP recipients throughout Florida and will increase farmer revenue by $2.1 million.

“Families eat more fruits and vegetables when they’re accessible and affordable, and simply taste better than food shipped long distances,” said Fresh Access Bucks Manager Carmen Franz. “Shopping at farmers markets also strengthens the local economy as it keeps more money circulating in the community, making it more resilient in economic downturns.”

For more information about the program and participating markets, please visit the Fresh Access Bucks website.

Florida Organic Growers EBT Program — Past, Present and Future

By: Derek Helmick, Community Food Project Coordinator  EBT LOGO2

For three years, Florida Organic Growers has provided a booth at various farmers markets throughout Alachua County that provide SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefit transfers.

In that time, the booth’s operational costs have been covered by various municipal grants; however, as municipal budgets tighten and the program matures, it is vital for the funding to continue in order for the booth to remain a part of the area farmers’ markets. Let’s delve into the broader history of the programs involved, the Alachua County project specifically, and provide possible plans for the booth’s future.

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is an aid program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Originally the Food Stamp program, it was started in the late 1930s as a response to widespread unemployment and massive food surpluses that existed during the height of the depression. Having ended in 1943, the program was reauthorized in 1959 with bipartisan support. During the incoming Kennedy Administration it was made permanent so as to make available “… to all needy families a greater variety and quantity of food out of our agricultural abundance.” [exec.ord. 10914]

In the 53 years since, the program has had regular revisions in step with political, ideological, and technological changes. One such technological change was a move in the late 90s to phase out the old green-and-brown stamps system in favor of an EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card to be used like a credit or debit card. This was done to make the system more consistent, more accountable, and less susceptible to fraud. With the move to an electronic payment system however, the retail food market became fragmented; those consumers receiving SNAP benefits were effectively shut out from any part of the market unable to handle electronic transactions. Two such parts of the excluded market are small and medium farmers who sell direct to the consumer.

ebttokens_machineDirectly selling to consumers remains a vital part of many farmers’ income. While most farm output is irrevocably tied up in larger grocery vendor systems, farmers often maintain an amount of excess or specialty crops that would otherwise go unsold. Many farmers elect to take part in regional farmers’ markets as a way to sell those products – often at significant a discount relative to grocery stores. Often, these markets are located close to populations that are underserved by most of the retail food market.

In Alachua County, the farmers’ markets FOG maintains an EBT booth at border regions the USDA has labeled as being without basic access to large grocery stores or similar outlets.

There is a significant investment necessary to starting up and maintaining the ability to accept electronic transactions. In addition, there are even more investments needed to accept SNAP benefits that put it out of reach for most farmers and small vendors. To accept SNAP and electronic transactions on behalf of multiple vendors allows for economies of scale that otherwise couldn’t support the necessary ongoing overhead.

Covering these costs is necessary in order to provide the wealth of health benefits made possible through EBT at farmers markets.

If you would like to support the EBT program at various farmers’ markets, please contact FOG at 352.377.6345. If you have any questions, comments, or would like more information about our work in this area, you are encouraged to contact us at Derek@foginfo.org or call 352.377.6345.

 

Funds for EBT machines in Florida expire September 30!

EBT LOGO2 Hoe Down 005

Attention Florida farmers markets and farmer – just over a month left to apply for SNAP authorization and a state-funded EBT machine!

Florida was allocated $78,749 to purchase electronic benefit transfer (EBT) machines for farmers markets. This money MUST be used before September 30th, 2013. So far, only $19,908 have been spent! We have $58,841 (74.72%) remaining!

In May of 2012, $4 million was appropriated for the purchase or rental of a wireless device and related SNAP fees for markets across the US. The purpose of the funds is to increase the availability of point-of-sale (POS) equipment in farmers markets not currently participating in SNAP. These are two-year funds, and must be used by September 30, 2013. The USDA funds can be used to cover the purchase price or rental fees of a wireless POS device, a one-time account setup/application fee, and monthly wireless fees (necessary to operate SNAP on the device). EBT transaction fees, cost of tokens, signage, and promotional materials are not eligible to be covered by the funds. Devices purchased or rented with federal funds may also accept commercial debit/credit cards.

Previously, the funds were only available to farmers markets. In May of 2013, USDA announced that the funds would also be made available to individual farmers if the farmer participates in a market that does not currently offer SNAP access. Check out this information sheet to see if you or your market is eligible, and learn more about the process

Additionally, your market might be eligible to participate in Florida Organic Growers’ (FOG)’s new program, Fresh Access Bucks, a double value coupon program that allows SNAP users to double their food dollars for Florida grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets statewide.

If you have further questions about this funding, EBT at farmers markets or the Fresh Access Bucks program, please feel free to contact Carmen Franz at FOG at carmen@foginfo.org.

FOG Announces Fresh Access Bucks

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) recently received a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to increase sales of Florida-grown specialty crops (specifically fruits and vegetables) to low income Florida consumers, providing higher-margin direct markets for Florida’s small farmers.

Through this grant, FOG has created Fresh Access Bucks, a program designed to increase direct market sales of Florida-grown specialty crops at farmers markets while increasing access to and consumption of healthy, locally produced specialty crops for low-income Florida residents who utilize federal nutrition assistance benefits including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly the Food Stamp Program) and WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).  For example, an individual spending $10 on fruits and vegetables at a participating market can buy $20 worth of fruits and vegetables– doubling revenues for specialty crop farmers and making specialty crops much more affordable for low-income Florida residents.

Additionally, this project will build a highly visible network of Florida farmers markets implementing innovative programs to incentivize the use of federal nutrition assistance benefits to purchase specialty crops. To increase the demand for locally grown specialty crops in under served communities, FOG will partner with Wholesome Wave, a national leader in implementation of nutrition incentive programming.

photo(6) DSC00349

Participating markets:

WIC/Senior FMNP

Alachua County: Alachua County Farmers Market, Newberry Farmers Market and Union Street Farmers Market

Bay County: Callaway Farmers Market and Grant Lagoon Farmers Market

Escambia County: Palafox Farmers Market

SNAP

Alachua County: Alachua County Farmers Market

Miami-Dade County: Urban Oasis – Upper East Side Farmers Market, Urban Oasis – Southwest Community Farmers Market

If you are a farmers market and interested in participating in this program, please contact Laura Lavid at laura@foginfo.org.  If you receive SNAP or FMNP and would like to double your dollars, contact Laura for a list of participating markets.