New Program Launched at Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market to Streamline FreshConnect Coupon Redemption for Consumers and Farmers and Encourage Program Participation
FreshConnect Fresh2You Initiative Increases Coupon Availability by 156 Percent, Additional Markets Participating in the Program This Year
Coupons Still Available for Eligible New Yorkers, Find a Participating Market Here
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the launch of a new digital FreshConnect initiative that will help boost the purchase of local farm products and bring the program to more families facing food insecurity. The pilot program launched Saturday, October 28 at the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market to provide eligible New Yorkers with a digital option to buy 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 pilot program allows the Broome County Regional Farmers’ market manager to 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. Loading of the currency will be capped at $50 per SNAP cardholder per day, which is consistent with the overall FreshConnect program and the FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative. In addition, consumers can make purchases in any increment and because of this new digital component, are not limited to the $2 increments of the physical FreshConnect coupons.
The app also modernizes the redemption process for farmers, saving them time and, with no physical coupons to redeem, making it easier for them to take part in the program. Using this app will also ensure farmers are receiving scheduled payments faster.
The pilot program is available to SNAP consumers at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market through the end of the year. The program could expand to other farmers’ markets where FreshConnect is accepted.
FreshConnect Fresh2You Initiative
In addition to the pilot program, the FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative has increased overall coupon availability to SNAP participants shopping at a farmers’ market. Since April, FreshConnect Fresh2You has increased farmers’ market coupon capacity to 750,000 per year, up from 293,800 in 2022, which is a 156 percent increase. Additionally, 52 farmers’ markets are issuing coupons this year, an increase from 47 markets in 2022. Coupons are still available for eligible New Yorkers at participating indoor farmers’ markets. Visit agriculture.ny.gov/farmersmarkets to find a participating market.
In response to the end of COVID-19 pandemic federal relief funding, the FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative modified the FreshConnect program to provide eligible New Yorkers with a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $50 per day at participating farmers’ markets, which allows families in need to purchase more fresh food, including produce, dairy, and meats. The program previously provided $2 for every $5 in SNAP dollars spent.
The Department of Agriculture and Markets also this year issued more than double the number of FreshConnect Checks for Veterans, service members, and immediate family members of Veterans or service members. Those accessing this program this year received $50.00 worth of coupons, up from $20.00 in previous years.
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “This is an exciting step for the FreshConnect program and its participants, both on the consumer and farmer side. 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.”
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County Executive Director Beth Roberts said, "Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County is honored to partner with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, ensuring that consumers have consistent access to fresh, locally grown products from the Broome County Regional Farmers Market. The FreshConnect Fresh2You pilot program serves as yet another demonstration of commitment to bolstering the agricultural community while simultaneously supporting vulnerable populations in New York State. These ongoing investments continue to help local communities address food insecurity while supporting our local farms."
State Senator Lea Webb said, “Food insecurity continues to be a major challenge in the Southern Tier. It is exciting to see the launch of the digital FreshConnect pilot program at the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market. Last year, we made it easier for families struggling with food insecurity to access fresh, healthy, locally produced food by increasing coupon availability to SNAP participants to use at farmers markets. Adding a digital option makes it even more convenient to eat well. Additionally, this initiative will make it easier for farmers to participate in the program, ensuring that we’re supporting agriculture and nutrition in our community.”
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo said, “By modernizing the coupon system, this new FreshConnect program is a win all the way around, making it more convenient for consumers to use their SNAP benefits to purchase farm products, and making it easier for farmers to participate. I am especially proud that this program will be launching at the Broome County Regional Farmers' Market. I'd like to thank Governor Hochul for continuing to support the FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative, which has dramatically increased access to locally grown, nutritious food for all New Yorkers over the years.”