Fresh Access Bucks began in 2013 with a Specialty Crop Block Grant awarded to Florida Organic Growers by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In 2015, Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) was awarded a USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Program (FINIP) grant to expand the program to more outlets and continue doubling SNAP/EBT for locally grown fruits and vegetables. In 2018 FAB joined the Feeding Florida team and with another USDA FINIP grant continued supporting SNAP recipients and Florida farmers throughout the state. Beginning in 2020, while the COVID-19 pandemic brought some major challenges and increased food insecurity, Fresh Access Bucks was there to meet the need. FAB launched a retail pilot program focused on small, regional, or independent grocery, co-op, convenience, or corner stores to offer FAB on fresh produce. FAB also provided support to the network of over 60 farm-direct outlets in Florida, in order to ensure that fresh fruits and vegetables could be safely accessed at farmers markets, farm stands, CSA's, and mobile markets. In 2021, FAB was awarded a USDA Gus Schumacher COVID Relief and Response (GusCRR) for nutrition incentive projects in order to continue this work and to expand into additional outlets.
Incentive programs for fruits and vegetables are effective at promoting local economies, increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables in underserved communities and driving positive health outcomes. National research has found that:
Estimates show that SNAP incentives, like FAB, have the potential to save $1.21 billion in healthcare costs by providing greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables (Mozaffarian D, Liu J, Sy S, Huang Y, Rehm C, Lee Y, et al.,2018)
“It allows us to make the food, the healthy organic food, accessible to people of all income levels.” – Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, Tampa
“The first year we offered the program someone cried, she was so excited that she would be able to buy organic vegetables from our market on a regular basis.” – St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, St. Petersburg
“It makes a big difference to me knowing my produce is going to someone who needs it.” – Siembra Farm, Gainesville
“The program is opening up a new segment for market shoppers. You can’t get better than purchasing fresh from the farm.” – Prevatt Farm, Wimauma (vendor at the St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market)