In a bid to increase purchasing of local farm products the state of New York has rolled out a new digital FreshConnect initiative.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the new initiative will “help boost the purchase of local farm products and bring the program to more families facing food insecurity.” The pilot program, launched at the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market, will provide eligible New Yorkers with a digital option to buy Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-eligible farm products at the farmers’ market and streamline the redemption process for New York farmers participating in the program.
“The Digital FreshConnect pilot program is an efficient way to reach more consumers and make it easier to use SNAP benefits to buy fresh, local food from our farmers,” Governor Hochul said. “What’s even better is that this new digital option also makes it easier and more convenient for our farmers to participate in the program.”
“Building on the improvements we just made to the FreshConnect program by increasing the amount of food that eligible New Yorkers could purchase with their SNAP dollars, this pilot program will encourage more SNAP participants to take advantage of the program and to visit our farmers’ markets to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and so many more New York farm products,” the governor said.
As part of the pilot program, the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market manager can load FreshConnect currency onto a consumer’s digital account. SNAP recipients using the FreshConnect program will be able to shop for eligible products at participating vendors and use a QR code to automatically deduct the purchase from their account. Because of the new digital component, consumers can make purchases in any increment, as opposed to the $2 increment requirements of the physical FreshConnect coupons.
The state also said that the app modernizes the redemption process for farmers, saving them time and making it easier for them to take part in the program. Using this app will also ensure farmers are receiving scheduled payments faster.
“This is an exciting step for the FreshConnect program and its participants, both on the consumer and farmer side,” New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “By providing the option for our families to digitally purchase local products, we hope we’re making it easier for them to use their benefits at the farmers’ market and encourage additional purchasing of local farm products – fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy. Buying fresh, healthy options will not only boost nutrition for our consumers but it will also provide an economic boost to our farmers, who will also find the program easier to navigate with this digital component. The pilot program is a win-win and we look forward to its success.”
The governor’s office noted that the pilot program is available to SNAP consumers at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market through the end of the year, and said the program could expand to other farmers’ markets where FreshConnect is accepted.