Fresh Access Bucks Program Continues in 2017-18 Market

The Downtown Farmers Curb Market is pleased to be a part of the Florida Organic Growers’ (FOG) application for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant which will award our market $10,000 worth of Fresh Access Bucks for the 2017-2018 Market year. Please see the Florida Organic Growers’ press release for more details about the grant.

We would not have been included in the grant proposal as an existing FOG market without the generous donation from MOSAIC to get us started in 2015.  The seed money from MOSAIC allow us to participate in the 2015 Fresh Access Bucks program and qualified us as an existing market with the potential to receive $10,000 each year for 3 years.

The story behind the Fresh Access Bucks Coming to Lakeland

Originally Published January 30, 2015

Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market has joined forces with Enactus, a social entrepreneur group from Florida Southern College, to make it easier for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. Through a grant from Mosaic, the Market was able to provide the matching dollars needed for the Fresh Access Bucks Program which doubles the value of SNAP (food stamp) dollars when they’re spent at farmer’s markets for fresh, Florida grown fruits and vegetables.

Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) encourages healthy behaviors by making fresh, local produce more affordable and accessible to SNAP customers (formally known as food stamps). The goals of FAB are to develop new market opportunities for farmers, increase access to and affordability of fruits and vegetables in underserved communities, and to increase people’s awareness of the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables. FAB promotes healthy eating habits in vulnerable communities by enabling farmers markets to accept SNAP/EBT (food stamps) and allows SNAP customers to purchase double their food dollars for Florida grown fruits and vegetables. A SNAP customer who spends $20 on fresh Florida grown produce receives an additional $20 to purchase additional fresh, local produce. Currently, 21 farmers markets are participating across Florida from Pensacola to Homestead. Fresh Access Bucks is a program administered statewide by a Gainesville based non-profit, Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. The Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market is the 21st market in the program.

SNAP benefits can be used for any eligible food items at the market. Currently twenty-five vendors at the Lakeland Downtown Farmers Market qualify to accept SNAP, with at least 5 eligible for the FAB program as well.
“It is a great partnership. The students are running the program for us – from creating the marketing materials to manning the EBT station at the Market on Saturdays,” said Julie Townsend, Executive Director of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority. “It is exciting to see FSC students engage with Downtown in this way. I think we will increase the awareness of the Market, and Downtown in general, on the FSC campus while providing a great service to the community.”
To kick start the program and for a limited time, the Market is also partnering with Citrus Connection to provide complimentary rides to the Market on Saturdays for EBT card holders through the Universal Access Program. When the barriers to access are removed, ridership increases. “We’ve watched the success of Polk State College and others who have partnered with transit. We want folks riding to Downtown,” said Townsend.
Program opening day is February 7, 2015, with a Citrus Connection ribbon cutting at 11:00 a.m. Enactus students are currently working on marketing materials, volunteer recruitment to staff the EBT booth and attracting more local farmers to the market.
“We were very excited when we first found out about the possibility of bringing Florida Organic Grower’s program to the Downtown Farmers Curb Market and for the opportunity for FSC to partner with LDDA. This is a great way to help expand business while providing a sustainable avenue to help improve the health of our community. This is exactly the kind of progress we would like to continue to see. We can’t wait to see where this takes us and the lasting difference we can make in Lakeland,” Julie Gladish, Senior at Florida Southern College and President of Enactus at Florida Southern College.
The Lakeland Downtown Farmers Curb Market is open every Saturday (except the month of August) from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the 200 blocks of North Kentucky and East Bay Street.

To learn more details about the program, visit the SNAP/EBT link under the ABOUT section of this site.