Good Food Bucks: Putting Families First
City Green’s Garden State Good Food Network (GSGFN) is a statewide farmers’ market incentive program for New Jersey’s SNAP shoppers. Through this program, anytime a SNAP customer uses their Families First EBT card at a participating market, they receive a dollar-for-dollar match in “Good Food Buck” incentive dollars for more fruits and vegetables. Five dollars becomes ten, and ten dollars becomes twenty. This not only doubles the purchasing power of SNAP customers, allowing them to put more food on their tables, but provides additional income support for our local farmers and producers. A market manager of a participating farmers market in Newark once stated, “The Good Food Buck program is a must have for urban communities. It’s one thing to promote buying fresh produce, but it shows you actually care when the community is incentivized to participate.” The GSGFN builds direct connections between the state’s nearly 700,000 SNAP recipients and over 50 local New Jersey farmers.
Over the past several months, City Green has been actively recruiting SNAP-authorized farmers market to participate in the program, as well as providing technical assistance support to farmers markets who are working to receive their SNAP-authorization from the USDA. The program is off to a promising start. As New Jersey’s only statewide SNAP-doubling program for farmers markets, over 15 farmers markets have submitted applications to participate in this nutrition incentive opportunity that will make healthy, local food available and affordable to everyone in 2020. Partner markets receive incentive funding, technical assistance, program training, and outreach and marketing support from City Green. We are excited to have such strong interest from partners throughout the community, and are poised for a fruitful and impactful year.
In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented burdens have been placed on businesses, families, and nearly every industry, with a record number of people applying for unemployment benefits. Through this economic hardship, a safe and reliable food supply is paramount. As more people become reliant on federal nutrition assistance programs like SNAP and WIC, incentive programs like Good Food Bucks are more essential than ever. The Good Food Buck program works to give individuals and families a hand up when it can be difficult to make ends meet, while also putting money back into the local economy. A former Good Food Buck shopper from the West Windsor Community Farmers Market states, “I am able to access seasonal healthy local produce that fits into my food budget. Though I hope that this period of need in my life is temporary, it is highly reassuring to know that the community I live in supports me in my right to access the healthiest, most sustainable food options.”
The program is a win-win-win for NJ residents, local farmers, and communities, and this funding opportunity from New Jersey Healthy Communities Network and New Jersey Health Initiatives, with additional support from other private foundations, will help to make healthy, local food accessible for all of our neighbors.
Photo courtesy of The Beth Greenhouse Farmers Market at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (2019).
About the Grantee
City Green is a 501(c)3 urban farming and gardening organization, based in Clifton, New Jersey working to revitalize New Jersey communities through agriculture, educational programming, and food access initiatives.