Tallahassee, FL– Fresh Access Bucks (FAB), a program of Feeding Florida, successfully launched its statewide retail pilot program with 15 locations. The program makes healthy foods accessible to SNAP shoppers in communities through local food outlets, including farmers markets, community supported agriculture(CSAs), farm stands, mobile markets, and now grocery stores. The most recent grocer to partner with FAB, Hitchcock’s Markets, helped to widen the retail effort across the state.
Expanding the Fresh Access Bucks program into the retail space has always been a goal for Feeding Florida,” says Robin Safley, Feeding Florida’s Executive Director. “Our food banks are able to provide immediate relief for Floridians needing food, but long-term solutions happen when you are able to provide healthy food options to families where they shop and access their groceries. Partnering with retailers statewide will allow SNAP recipients more nutritious options and an affordable way to make healthy choices for their families.”
Community grocers across the state began to join the Fresh Access Bucks program in October of last year, the first being Sunflower Discount Market in North Fort Myers. Soon after, Legrand Caribbean Market in Immokalee, Wright’s Natural Food Market in New Port Richey and Grassroots Natural Market in Jacksonville joined the program. Adding the Hitchcock’s Market stores expands the program's accessibility to SNAP shoppers across the state with 11participating locations, including Alachua, East Palatka, Hawthorne, Homosassa, Indiantown, Interlachen, Jasper, Keystone Heights, Newberry, Trenton and Williston.
Hitchcock’s Markets are located in rural Florida towns that may not otherwise have access to full-service grocery stores. The first store opened in 1945 and since then, they have grown to several locations throughout Florida, all offering only the highest quality foods at competitive prices, providing clean stores and welcoming customers with friendly, well-trained and knowledgeable employees. Adding Feeding Florida’s Fresh Access Bucks Program was another example of their mission to put customers' and communities’ needs first.
Helping out our community is the biggest thing,” noted Giselle Alvarez, Hitchcock’s VP of operations. “We are very connected to our community. We know our customers.”
At participating outlets, FAB matches what a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) SNAP cardholder spends with FREE Fresh Access Bucks - up to $10 to spend on fresh vegetables and fruit, every time they shop. For example, a SNAP shopper who spends $5 of their SNAP benefits receives an additional $5 of FAB to purchase fresh produce that day or on a later shopping trip. Fresh Access Bucks are available every day that the market is open and SNAP shoppers may double their benefits with each visit. For a list of participating locations and hours of operation visit www.feedingflorida.org/food-access/fresh-access-bucks/retail.
The need is greater than ever as COVID-19 has heavily impacted Floridians; unemployment rates have risen and food access has become an increased challenge for almost 1 million more people across Florida. Over 3.5 million Floridians are currently receiving SNAP benefits according to Florida Department of Children and Families’ most recent numbers in December of 2020, an increase of nearly 740,000 from the previous year. All SNAP customers are eligible to participate in the FAB retail program. FAB’s retail program is a pilot with a focus on small, regional, or independent grocery, co-op, convenience, or corner stores.
Feeding Florida’s FAB retail program is an expansion of an initiative currently offered in more than 50 farmers market outlets across the state, with the goal of ensuring food insecure individuals have access to affordable, fresh, locally-sourced produce in their community.
About Fresh Access Bucks
Fresh Access Bucks (FAB) is a USDA funded statewide nutrition incentive program that increases the purchasing power of SNAP recipients to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, produce stands, CSAs, mobile markets, and community grocery outlets. FAB’s approach to addressing food access, affordability and nutrition education aims to work with the entire food system: from producer to consumer to build healthy, resilient communities supported by robust local food systems. To learn more about Fresh Access Bucks’ program, visit www.FreshAccessBucks.com.
About Feeding Florida
Feeding Florida is the state’s premier organization in the fight to end hunger. The statewide network of food banks distributes food directly to families in need through over 2,400 local charitable agencies, providing a healthy, adequate, and consistent food supply to every community, every day. Feeding Florida’s 12 member food banks include: All Faiths Food Bank, Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Bread of the Mighty, Feeding Northeast Florida, Feeding South Florida, Feeding Tampa Bay, Feeding the Gulf Coast, First Step Food Bank, Florida Gateway Food Bank, Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and Treasure Coast Food Bank. For more information about Feeding Florida or to find your local food bank, visit www.FeedingFlorida.org.