Beginning in 2010, we funded an initiative to help low-income families buy affordable and healthy foods at farmers markets.
Those who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food support benefits were encouraged to visit participating farmers markets where SNAP dollars could be used with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card.
With a goal of increasing the demand, access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables by those who receive SNAP benefits, the Center for Prevention created a financial incentive called Market Bucks. This incentive offered SNAP recipients a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $5 per day, for each dollar they spent using EBT cards on fresh produce at participating farmers markets.
During the 2014 market season, the initiative was able to help low-income Minnesotans purchase an additional $77,000 worth of healthy foods.
During the 2014 market season, the initiative was able to help low-income Minnesotans purchase an additional $77,000 worth of healthy foods. Three-quarters of SNAP customers surveyed stated that because of EBT and Market Bucks, they increased the amount of fruits and vegetables purchased, with many crediting Market Bucks for stretching their food budget. The majority of these purchases were made from produce vendors (75 percent EBT sales were from fruit and vegetable vendors; 78 percent of Market Bucks were redeemed from fruit and vegetable vendors).
In 2015, Market Bucks and EBT acceptance were available at more than 50 market sites throughout Minnesota. Through this effort, more low-income families will continue to have access to foods that are affordable, healthy and fresh, while establishing and strengthening connections within the community.