Thanks to the New York governor, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients now have access to healthy, fresh foods year-round as well as financial incentives to make healthier food choices.
Research has shown that offering financial incentives and coupons or even lowering prices to subsidize the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables for low-income families could increase consumption of those foods. Additionally, the use of farmers markets has been associated with higher fruit and vegetable consumption. Now, New York is putting even more resources toward a program that combines the two approaches.
Just last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the availability of $350,000 to support the state’s successful FreshConnect Checks program, which increases the purchasing power of SNAP benefits used at participating farmers’ markets. The program will operate year-round providing recipients – including low-income families and veterans – the ability to increase their benefits and access fresh, healthy produce every month of the year.
The FreshConnect Checks program specifically encourages recipients to use their SNAP benefits at participating farmers markets by providing $2 incentive checks for every $5 in food stamps spent, thus increasing the purchasing power of SNAP consumers by 40 percent. Last year, more than $3.2 million in SNAP sales occurred at farmers markets throughout the state.
More than 84,000 checks have already been issued to 152 sites across the state to help eligible New Yorkers access healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. As the season progresses, additional checks will be issued reaching even more consumers than last year while also providing a boost to the agriculture industry.
In the words of Gov. Cuomo, “The FreshConnect Program allows New Yorkers in need to access locally grown fruits and vegetables, and this year we’re going above and beyond to help people eat healthy. By increasing the amount of funding available and adding year-round partners to the program, we are promoting healthier habits and making a difference in communities across the state.”
According to the state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball, “The FreshConnect program first launched five years ago as part of the governor’s efforts to invest in the state’s agriculture industry. Every year, the program has grown as the local food movement continues to grow. This year, we’re seeing an increased number of checks being distributed and an extended season to use them, which is benefiting both consumers looking for healthy alternatives and farmers expanding their reach into new markets.”
FreshConnect-funded projects aim to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of their income, have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and are encouraged to accept other types of nutrition incentives, such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Fruit & Vegetable checks, Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition checks.
To read the full press release from the Office of the Governor, click here.
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Leaders are people who are actively working - either professionally or as volunteers - to change policies and environments to help children eat better and be more active. We use the following criteria to evaluate whether to approve an applicant for Leader status with the Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center.
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At least one item must be checked within each of the following two categories:
1. Applicant is focused on changing policies and environments
They are working on one of Voices for Healthy Kid's six issue areas:
Ensure foods and beverages in schools meet dietary guidelines
Expand community access to high quality food
Expand physical activity programs in and out of school
Improve built environment in communities to increase physical activity
Use pricing strategies to promote purchase of healthier foods
Use regulation/policy to reduce youth exposure to unhealthy food marketing
They are working on other obesity-related issues, such as:
Their primary focus is working on individual behavior (e.g., teaching kids about food, play, etc.), but they have access to organizations that could provide opportunities to change environments, such as
Public Health Agencies
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2. Applicant is organizing others or contributing to organizing efforts
They are organizing others by:
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They provide support to organizations or leaders doing work changing policies and environments, such as:
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Federal or state agency
Mayor or other local executive office
Federal, state, county or local public health department
Federal, state, county or transportation department
Federal, state or local education agency or school board
If the applicant claims to work for an organization, at least one item must be checked below:
3. Applicant works for an organization:
Has an email address that matches the domain of the organization they list
Is listed on the organization website as staff
The Voices for Healthy Kids Action Center is looking for bloggers who can write about issues that matter to our community on a regular basis. If you would like to be considered for this network, please check this box.