This year, 67 markets and farms in 45 Georgia cities will offer huge cost savings to SNAP recipients.
ATLANTA — Wholesome Wave Georgia, a nonprofit that works to increase access to local, fresh, food, once again is providing Georgia Fresh for Less – a program that has incentivized thousands of Georgians to spend more than $2 million on local produce since 2009. In 2018, WWG will partner with 67 different producer-only farmers markets and direct marketing farms throughout Georgia to sell their produce to federal nutrition assistance beneficiaries* who will receive twice the value for their benefits through the program. More than 10 new markets came on board to participate in Georgia Fresh for Less this market season.
“We’re ecstatic that we grew to nearly 70 markets participating in Georgia Fresh for Less, which increases access to fresh, local food,” says Sara Berney, Wholesome Wave Georgia’s executive director. “The program matches SNAP and EBT – dollar for dollar – at participating farmers markets, so consumers pay less for food that is higher quality and more nutritious than average store purchases.”
To participate in Georgia Fresh for Less, Georgians with food assistance benefits need only show up, swipe their EBT cards with a market staffer in exchange for tokens, and shop. Shoppers receive tokens worth twice as much as the amount of money debited on their card. A $10 swipe equals $20 in tokens, for instance, to spend on market items. A list of participating farmers markets can be found at WholesomeWaveGeorgia.org/find-a-market, or shoppers can call 404-551-5996 for assistance.
By increasing the affordability of farmers markets, Georgia Fresh for Less makes nourishing choices accessible for Georgia’s food-insecure families and promotes healthy eating habits. According to Wholesome Wave Georgia, 78 percent of program participants surveyed in 2017 said they increased their produce consumption.
Additionally, by bringing shoppers to the farmers market who may not have gone otherwise, Georgia Fresh for Less helps more Georgians connect with fresh food growers, which strengthens local communities and pumps money back into those communities. In the same survey, nearly 90 percent of program participants surveyed reported an increase in farmers market visits since using the program.. This collective increase has contributed more than $2 million to the state’s food economy since 2009.
“Georgia Fresh for Less is rooted in Wholesome Wave Georgia’s mission, which is to increase access to fresh, healthy, local food,” adds Berney. “Typically, the less money the consumer has to spend, the more likely choices are made based on price, rather than nutritional value. Our program makes local and nutritional choices affordable for all of Georgia’s families.”
* The meaning of “federal nutrition assistance benefits” is synonymous with SNAP/food stamps, EBT, and WIC, in most cases.