Say Hello to Georgia Fresh For Less!

In 2016, WWG decided our Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) needed a makeover. Our staff worked closely with the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (GCN) to meet with SNAP recipients and hear what they had to say about the program. What did they call the program? How did they describe it? Had they even heard of Wholesome Wave Georgia? GCN hosted five focus groups across the state to find out.

Across the five groups, common themes emerged: the desires to save money, get more food for less, and purchase fresh food. The primary factor influencing participant's purchasing decisions is cost; other factors include dietary restriction, convenience, and quality. While the focus group participants can describe what healthy foods are, their current food consumption consists of unhealthy items because they lack accessible and affordable healthy choices. When asked what they would prefer to eat if price and accessibility were not barriers, participants identified healthier, home cooked foods. 

From group to group, one thing stood out: no one knew the name of our Double Value Coupon Program. Only 15% of focus group participants had even heard about the program, but no one knew what to call it.

logo14_v3-01.png

Enter, Georgia Fresh For Less. WWG believes Georgia Fresh For Less represents the core message of the program and is simple to understand. Through Georgia Fresh For Less, we match federal nutrition assistance (FNA, i.e. SNAP/food stamps, WIC) dollars--dollar for dollar--at participating farmers markets and farms across the state to make healthy, nourishing choices affordable for low-income families.

When FNA shoppers spend $10, they get $20 worth of fresh, local food. By matching each FNA dollar spent at farmers markets, we leverage existing government nutrition programs to promote healthy and affordable eating habits.

 

WHOLESOME WAVE NATIONAL HITS $1,000,000 MARK!

We’ve hit a lot of milestones in the last nine years. Here’s a nice new one: one million dollars.

That’s how much our Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program partners have already distributed in SNAP and nutrition incentives just since the start of the year. This million-dollar milestone represents the magnitude of the investment SNAP shoppers are making in healthy, local produce, in communities throughout the country. And these dollars don’t just buy local food – they end up in the hands of nearby growers, and then radiate out through the community, bolstering the economy and improving public health.

Reaching $1M also clocks the growing success of our FINI projects. Just 8 months into the year, their SNAP and incentive totals have surpassed totals for the entirety of 2015, and are at 84% of our total projections for 2016. With four months still left in the year, we’ll likely exceed those projections. Through this data we also see the demonstrated value of coming together across cities and states to support food access. Network member Wholesome Wave Georgia, which convenes farmers markets across that southern state, are blowing it out of the water. Just since January 1, shoppers at their markets have redeemed well over $100,000 in SNAP and nutrition incentives. Even in the smallest state, longtime partner Farm Fresh Rhode Island has seen over $70,000 in fruit and vegetable sales in 2016 alone. And even single-site programs are shining. For example, SNAP consumers at Fondy Farmers Market in Milwaukee have bought over $40,000 of produce this year.

The most substantial peak of 2016 occurred during National Farmers Market Week, in the first week of August, when we saw a $58,000 increase in sales over the previous week. That’s good news for shoppers, farmers and the hard-working folks behind these programs. But we’re not going to rest on these laurels—far from it. These numbers are a tiny slice of the national need. We’re just getting started.

By: Fiona McBride