File photo by Ty Swenson
Growers at the High Point Farm Stand displayed their harvest for sale in July, 2013. King County and Seattle announced the Fresh Bucks program to encourage low-income shoppers to buy locally produces fruits and vegetables from farmers markets and farm stands will extend to the end of 2013.

Fresh Bucks program extended to the end of 2013

A program designed to connect low-income shoppers using food stamp assistance to feed their families with Seattle’s bountiful farmers markets will be extended until the end of 2013, rather than ending on Oct. 31 as originally planned, according to Seattle and King County Public Health.

Here’s how it works: Low-income residents receiving SNAP benefits receive up to $10 in matching funds from Public Health when they purchase fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, including the West Seattle Farmers Market and seasonal High Point Farm Stand (which has closed for the winter).

While providing a benefit of affordable healthy food to residents, Public Health said the program has helped out local farmers as well. Here are their statistics for 2013 (the pilot program started in 2012): “Of the approximately 2,500 shoppers using Fresh Bucks in 2013, over 500 shopped at a farmers market for the first time and over 1000 used their SNAP benefits at a farmers market for the first time. Since the start of the 2013 program, SNAP transactions brought in $82,890 to local farmers. In the same time period, low-income shoppers received a boost of $57,224 in Fresh Bucks to help them afford more fruits and vegetables.”

"Through the simple act of grocery shopping, people can help to strengthen the rural economy and also enjoy the abundance of our local food supply," King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a press release.

"Fresh Bucks is a great example of how programs that support the most vulnerable in our community can provide tremendous benefits for the entire community," Mayor Mike McGinn added to the release. "I'm pleased to be able to extend this innovative program through the end of the year."

The High Point Farm Stand in West Seattle is a fitting example of how both the purchaser and the grower can benefit, all at a very local level. From July 10 to Oct. 9 each year, the p-patch garden at 32nd Ave. S.W. and S.W. Juneau opens from 4 to 7 p.m. each Wednesday to sell their produce to the public (and take part in Fresh Bucks). The veggies and fruits are all grown and sold on that single plot of land. Sixty percent of revenue goes back to the growers while 40 percent goes into the citywide P-Patch program for seed, compost and gardening supplies.

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