Recent findings by the New York City Council show a significant increase in the use of food stamps at Greenmarkets across the city.
This comes as good news, following the decade-long push to make fresh produce an affordable option for struggling and poor families. Families that qualify for federal food stamp aid often live in neighborhoods with limited access to nutritious, organic and healthy food.
In 2006, the City Council began partnering with GrowNYC to provide funding for EBT scanners, signage and dedicated staff members to operate the machines at Greenmarkets.
The initiative has been highly successful and this year, EBT machines were available at 43 markets across the five boroughs. GrowNYC's effort included a multi-borough marketing initiative in six different languages, urging New Yorkers to use food stamps at Greenmarkets, with advertisements on subways, buses and in several citywide newspapers.
Last year, the Council allocated $270,000 toward the program, and already they have seen a marked increase in Greenmarket purchases by EBT cardholders.
Council findings show that food stamp purchases have grown from $505,000 in 2010, to more than $620,000 in 2011, a 23 percent increase. In 2011, approximately 75 percent of food stamp dollars at Greenmarkets were spent on fresh fruits and vegetables, while the amount spent on baked goods dropped by nearly five percent.