Fresh fruits and vegetables are now more affordable for shoppers who use SNAP benefits (formerly called food stamps) at the East End Food Co-op. Through a partnership with The Food Trust, a non-profit dedicated to ensuring everyone has access to nutritious, affordable food, shoppers who use SNAP will earn a $2 Food Buck coupon for every $5 they spend on fresh produce. Food Bucks can be used on a subsequent shopping trip for additional fresh produce. There is no enrollment or sign-up required. Food Bucks are printed on receipt paper and shoppers earn them at checkout when they pay for their groceries using SNAP.
For many years, the East End Food Co-op has worked to make fresh, healthy food accessible and affordable by offering a 10% courtesy discount on all transactions for which a customer uses SNAP benefits; the discount applies to all items in the transaction, not just those that are SNAP eligible.
“The addition of the Food Bucks program is an incredible complement to our food access efforts, and we are excited for this partnership with the Food Trust. Being a Food Bucks retailer means people in our community have increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables all year round, especially during the months when farmers markets are less prevalent,” explained General Manager Maura Holliday.
In order for Food Bucks to work, the Co-op invested roughly $6,000 in point-of-sale software updates so cash registers could calculate qualifying purchases and trigger a printable, redeemable Food Bucks receipt. The Food Trust provided in-person training for all Front End employees to ensure Co-op staff were confident in explaining the program to qualifying shoppers.
Food Bucks went live in January 2020, and in the first month the Co-op issued 391 Food Bucks coupons ($2,008) and shoppers redeemed 124 Food Bucks coupons ($905.63).
About Food Bucks
- The Food Bucks program makes fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable to shoppers using SNAP at 45 locations in the Pittsburgh region, including farmers and mobile markets, corner stores and supermarkets.
- In addition to increasing fresh produce purchases for participating shoppers, the program directly contributes to the sustainability of the regional food economy by boosting revenue for local growers, food producers, and business owners.
- For a full list of sites and additional program details, visit The Food Trust.
- The Food Bucks program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as part of efforts to provide greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables for shoppers who use SNAP.
- Additional partners on the Food Bucks program include: Just Harvest, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and Adagio Health.