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State Agriculture Commissioner Reminds Consumers Freshconnect Checks are Being Accepted at Winter Farmers’ Markets for the First Time

Expanded Program Provides Year-Round Operation at a Dozen Participating Markets across the State; Additional Markets to Join the Program

February 2, 2016 - State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today reminded consumers that FreshConnect Checks are, for the first time, now being accepted at participating winter farmers’ markets across the state.  The program, which increases the purchasing power of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits used at farmers’ markets, was extended year-round and now provides low-income families the opportunity to use checks 12 months a year.

Commissioner Ball said, “As the local food movement grows and more New Yorkers want to buy their food fresh from the farm, Governor Cuomo has ensured the FreshConnect program is meeting the demand. Now, with an extended season to use FreshConnect checks, we’re providing even more opportunities for consumers to buy healthy, locally grown and produced food while supporting our farmers.”

New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, “This is a great way to make sure SNAP recipients have easy access to locally grown, nutritious produce year-round, right in their own communities. The FreshConnect program provides a tremendous incentive for New Yorkers to use their SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets and I applaud the Governor for his commitment to fighting hunger and supporting our farmers.”

Twelve winter markets across the state are participating in the FreshConnect program, with more expected to join in the coming weeks.

  • Ithaca Farmers’ Market (Tompkins County)
  • Otsiningo Farmers’ Market (Broome County)
  • Kingston Farmers’ Market (Ulster County)
  • Schenectady Greenmarket (Schenectady County)
  • Veggie Mobile (Capital Region)
  • SUNY Plaza Farmers’ Market (Albany County)
  • Empire Plaza (Albany County)
  • Oneida County Public Market (Oneida County)
  • Foodlink (Monroe County)
  • Rochester Public Market (Monroe County)
  • South Wedge Farmers’ Market (Monroe County)
  • Brighton Farmers’ Market (Monroe County)

More than 150,000 checks have already been issued to 180 sites across the state to help eligible New Yorkers access healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, during the 2015 traditional farmers’ market season. Additional checks will be issued through the winter, reaching even more consumers than last year and providing a boost to the agriculture industry.

The FreshConnect Checks program encourages recipients to use their SNAP benefits at participating farmers’ markets. The checks provide $2 incentive checks for every $5 in SNAP benefits spent, increasing the purchasing power of SNAP consumers by 40 percent. In 2014, more than $3.2 million in SNAP sales occurred at farmers' markets throughout the state.

The FreshConnect Program was launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2011 and is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.  FreshConnect-funded projects aim to ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of income, have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

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