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New York Ups the SNAP Purchasing Power for Fruits and Vegetables


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.