Wholesome Wave Georgia believes that all Georgians should have access to good, wholesome and locally-grown food. Our goal is to increase access to good food for all Georgians while contributing to the local food economy. By doubling each Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, aka Food Stamp) dollar spent at our partner markets, we leverage existing government food nutrition programs to encourage shopping at local farmers markets.
The execution of the Wholesome Wave Georgia (WWG) program is very simple: Every nutrition benefit dollar spent at a WWG partner market becomes two dollars for the shopper and for the farmer. This means more money for farmers and that more Georgians gain access to good, wholesome and locally-grown food.
In 2009, we launched as a state-wide chapter of the double value coupon program (DVCP) with the generous financial support of Wholesome Wave National and Atlanta’s Ellis Hotel. In our inaugural 2009 season we began with a network of three markets throughout the state. In 2010, WWG expanded to 8 markets in 5 cities. In 2011, WWG had 14 markets in 7 cities. In 2012, WWG maintained partnership with 14 markets in order to strengthen their systems and capacities to ensure each market is a consistent destination for SNAP/WIC shoppers. In 2013 we carefully and strategically expanded to 7 new markets, for a total of 21 markets across the state. In 2014, WWG is working with nearly 25 markets that now stretch from Metro Atlanta to Rock Spring to Macon to Savannah.
Our geographical growth has been made possible by the continued financial support of Wholesome Wave National, private donations, and the amazing support of our local partners. Along with a larger state-wide presence, WWG has seen exciting financial growth over the past seasons. In the inaugural 2009 season, WWG’s 3 partner markets doubled the value of $3,000 to $6,000. In 2010 our 8 markets doubled $21,000 to $42,000. In 2011, our 15 markets doubled $61,500 to $123,000, with 3,500 individual card swipes throughout our network, for an average of $17.50 doubled per shopper equaling $35 in good food purchased. In 2012, WWG doubled $115,000 to $230,000, with over 6,000 swipes, for an average swipe of $18.50, or $37 in good food purchased. For the 2013 season, we are budgeting for $170,000 in incentives, for a total of $340,000 in purchases for our shoppers and business for farmers across the state. In 2014, WWG is on track to provide over $360,000 in fresh, healthy, locally grown food to Georgia SNAP recipients.
WWG consumer survey results also demonstrate the success of the DVCP and WWG’s ability to successfully implement the project. In 2013, 91% of program participants reported that they increased their consumption of fresh, local produce. 95% of program participants reported that the DVCP incentives increased their access to healthy, local food.
In January, 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that Georgia was leading the nation with the third highest amount of SNAP redemptions at Farmers Markets and other farm-to-retail venues (i.e., direct marketing farms) in FY2013. The $3.8 million SNAP dollars that were spent on healthy, fresh foods at Georgia Farmers Markets is a terrific accomplishment and demonstrates the opportunity WWG has to connect with SNAP recipients and get them in and returning to Farmers Markets to purchase healthy foods.
Wholesome Wave Georgia is run by an Executive Director and Board of Directors with the administrative support of our state EBT office.
The Wholesome Wave Georgia program is committed to supporting producer-only farmers markets.
Sara Berney is thrilled to join Wholesome Wave Georgia as its Executive Director. She is passionate about increasing access to and affordability of nutritious foods and looks forward to building and strengthening local food communities across Georgia. From 2013-2014, Sara worked as a Public Health Consultant for Deloitte Consulting LLP, supporting clients at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health non-profits including the Flour Fortification Initiative. Prior to joining Deloitte, Sara served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru where she trained community health promoters and youth health educators in nutrition education and implemented school garden programs in five primary schools. Sara graduated from Emory University Magna Cum Laude with a BA in African Studies and Sociology in 2010. While at Emory, Sara was awarded multiple grants to work as a Health Educator and conduct public health research in Uganda. Sara has been a regular volunteer in the Atlanta food community since moving to Atlanta in 2006, and is eager to pour her energy and passion into her new role at Wholesome Wave Georgia.