In a neighborhood such as East Harlem where it can be challenging to locate and purchase fresh, affordable produce, Health Bucks are a welcome resource to encourage healthier eating. Health Bucks, coordinated by the NYC Health Department, are coupons redeemable for $2 worth of fresh produce at NYC farmers’ markets and. Health Bucks can help support farmers’ markets in underserved communities and contribute to the regional economy.
Several years ago, former Manhattan Borough President, Scott Stringer launched the Youth Bucks program, which provided free $2 coupons for youth to spend at local farmers markets. Over the duration of the program, more than 11,000 children and teens received these Youth Bucks, providing youth in high-need areas of Manhattan such as East Harlem with access to high-quality, fresh produce.
The new Manhattan Borough President, Gale Brewer, now has the opportunity to continue and expand the Youth Bucks initiative by purchasing Health Bucks coupons from the NYC Health Department and providing them to organizations that serve youth. Ms. Brewer has demonstrated a long-time commitment to issues relating to food and health, most recently by making increasing participation in the NYC DOE Summer Meals program a priority. Continuing the Youth Bucks program is another way for her office to reach Manhattan youth and positively impact their health.
Youth Bucks enable organizations working with youth around healthy eating and food justice issues. For example, the Children’s Aid Society provided Youth Bucks to young people using its services enabling them to buy high quality fresh product directly from farmers markets in their neighborhoods. Putting purchasing power for fruits and vegetables in the hands of youth not only gives them ownership over their food choices, but it exposes them to new, healthy foods from a young age, which could help establish of a lifetime of healthy eating behaviors.
What do you think about bringing back the Youth Bucks program?
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*The City’s summer food program provides free and nutritious breakfasts and lunches to children at sites across the City and is a critical resource in the fight against hunger – especially for families who benefit from reduced price and free meals during the school year. Find your nearest Summer Meals site