NYC SNAP Incentive Programs Expand with $5.5 Million Grant

by Marissa Sheldon
NYC SNAP

Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: Health Bucks, Get the Good Stuff 

Overview: New York City has received a $5.5 million federal grant to help increase access to healthy foods and reduce health inequities. The funding will support fruit and vegetable purchases made by New Yorkers who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

Location: New York City, New York

Population: 8.2 million

Food policy category: Food security, social and economic equity

Program goals: To make fruits and vegetables more accessible and affordable for New Yorkers who participate in SNAP. 

How it works: The grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) was awarded to the Fund for Public Health in NYC. The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and its partners will contribute matching funds, for a total of $11 million in SNAP expansion. 

The grant is being used to expand the Health Bucks SNAP incentive and Get the Good Stuff programs. Health Bucks, two-dollar coupons redeemable for fresh fruits and vegetables at NYC farmers’ markets, increase SNAP purchasing power at over 100 NYC markets. For every two dollars spent in SNAP benefits, customers will now receive an additional two dollars in Health Bucks, for up to a total of ten dollars in Health Bucks per day. Before receiving the grant funding, Health Bucks only provided two dollars in Health Bucks for every five dollars spent in SNAP benefits. 

Get the Good Stuff is an incentive program that offers a dollar-for-dollar match, for up to ten dollars per day, on SNAP purchases of eligible fruits, vegetables, and beans at participating stores. Grant funding will allow the program to expand to additional grocery stores throughout the city. 

Progress to date: The city announced its receipt of the grant funding on March 12, 2021. 

Why it is important: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that food insecurity rates in NYC have increased 38 percent to include more than 1.5 million New Yorkers.  Additionally, there has been a 44 percent increase in SNAP usage at NYC Greenmarkets during COVID-19. 

Since 2005, Health Bucks have been used to purchase more than $6 million worth of fresh fruits and vegetables. More than 7,000 New Yorkers have enrolled in Get the Good Stuff since its inception in 2019, and the program has been used to purchase $1.25 million worth of fruits and vegetables from grocery stores. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. 

The expansion of the Health Bucks and Get the Good Stuff programs will help New Yorkers with SNAP benefits gain more affordable access to healthy foods while also supporting local farmers and business owners. 

Program/Policy initiated: The Health Bucks program began in 2005. Get the Good Stuff was introduced in 2019. 

Point of contact: 
Patrick Gallahue / Victoria Merlino
Media Contact, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Email: [email protected] 

Similar practices: Many states, including Washington State, Florida, and Massachusetts have similar SNAP benefit matching programs at farmers’ markets.  Virginia’s incentive program combines the benefits of Health Bucks and Get the Good Stuff to allow matching at both farmers’ markets and participating grocery stores. 

Evaluation: While a formal evaluation of the programs’ expansions has not yet been conducted, most initial reactions have been positive. 

Learn more:

References:

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