This is Part 1 of a 3-part series featuring several nutrition incentive programs that operate in New York State.
Federal food assistance programs such as SNAP have been shown to significantly reduce food insecurity. However, many SNAP users have reported difficulty in accessing and affording nutritious foods, and consumption of fruits and vegetables in SNAP households remains significantly below recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. One promising approach to addressing these challenges are nutrition incentive programs, which are designed to improve access to fruits and vegetables among low-income populations by reducing the cost burden of these foods. Nutrition incentive programs work by providing recipients with more purchasing power to be used on fresh produce.
How it works: Health Bucks are $2 coupons sponsored by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at all NYC farmers markets.
How are they administered: Health Bucks can be administered in a variety of of ways:
- Health Bucks are administered as a SNAP incentive at farmers markets. For every $2 spent using their SNAP/EBT card, shoppers received $2 in Health Bucks, capped at $10 per day.
- Community organizations can apply to receive free Health Bucks to distribute to community members as an incentive to participate in nutrition education and other health-related activities.
- Organizations and elected officials can purchase Health Bucks and distribute them as part of programming.
Year Started: Health Bucks were developed in 2005 by the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene.
Recipients: SNAP recipients qualify for Health Bucks for purchases made at farmers markets using SNAP/EBT.
Results/Progress: The 2021 Food Metrics report stated that in 2020, “over 600,000 Health Bucks, worth more than $1,200,000 in fruits and vegetables, were distributed, putting fresh, locally grown produce into the hands of thousands of New Yorkers with low-incomes.”
In March 2021, the City announced it received a $5.5 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) to expand SNAP nutrition incentive programs. Funding will support the expansion of the Health Bucks program and “Farmers market customers now get $2 in Health Bucks for every $2 spent in SNAP benefits, a doubling of purchasing power, up to $10 in Health Bucks per day. Previously, customers received $2 in Health Bucks for every $5 spent in SNAP at farmers markets.”
- Health Bucks (NYC Health)
- How to Use Health Bucks at NYC Farmers Markets (NYC Health)
- NYC SNAP Incentive Programs Expand with $5.5 Million Grant (Hunter College Food Policy Center)
- Anti-Hunger Programs that Improve Health and Reduce Healthcare Costs (Hunter College Food Policy Center)
- City to Expand SNAP Rewards Programs to Stores in Underserved Nabes (Brooklyn Paper)
- P71 Nutrition Education with Incentive at NYC Farmers Markets May Contribute to Longer-Term Increases in Produce Consumption (Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour)
- Assessing the Impact of the “Health Bucks” Program on Cardiovascular Disease in New York City: A Modeling Study (Journal of American Heart Association)
- P25 Expansion of Fruit And Vegetable Incentives Impacts People with SNAP at NYC Farmers Markets (Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior)
How it works: Get the Good Stuff provides a dollar-for-dollar match on purchases of fruits, vegetables and beans for customers who use SNAP at participating local supermarkets. As stated on the program website, “New Yorkers who participate in SNAP can get free fruits, vegetables and beans at certain NYC supermarkets through Get the Good Stuff, a NYC Health Department program. For every dollar you spend using SNAP/EBT on eligible fruits, vegetables and beans, you get a matching dollar in reward points (up to $10 per day) that can be used for the next purchase of eligible produce.”
Eligible foods include:
- Fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs
- Frozen fruits and vegetables without added sugar, salt or fat
- Canned and jarred fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils without added sugar, salt or fat
- Dried beans, lentils and fruit without added sugar, salt or fat
Reward points are administered electronically through a loyalty card system and is “one of the only fully electronic nutrition incentive programs in the nation to include frozen, canned and dried fruits, vegetables, and beans in addition to fresh produce.”
Where it works: To sign up for the program, participants must visit the customer service desk at any one of the participating retailers listed below:
- Cherry Valley Supermarket
2870 Webster Avenue, Bronx
(corner of Bedford Park Boulevard and Webster Avenue)
- Fine Fare
675 Morris Avenue, Bronx
(between East 153rd Street and Concourse Village East)
- Fine Fare
8945 163rd Street, Jamaica
(between Jamaica Avenue and 89th Avenue)
- Fine Fare
459 East 149th Street, Bronx
(corner of East 149th Street and Brook Avenue)
- Fine Fare
3550 White Plains Road, Bronx
(corner of East 212th Street and White Plains Road)
- 3 Guys From Brooklyn
6502 Fort Hamilton Parkway, Brooklyn
(corner of 65th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway)
Year Started: Get the Good Stuff Program began in November 2019.
Recipients: SNAP recipients qualify for eligible purchases made at participating stores using SNAP/EBT.
Results/Progress: In FY 2021, customers participating in the program redeemed over $1,090,000 worth of fruits, vegetables, and beans.
In March 2021, the City announced it received a $5.5 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) to expand SNAP nutrition incentive programs. Funding will support the expansion of the Get the Good Stuff program to additional stores. The program is expected to reach 14,000 New Yorkers by 2024.
- Free Fruits, Vegetables and Beans with SNAP/EBT (NYC Health)
- Get the Good Stuff: Implementing the Vision (Fund for Public Health NYC)
- Rewards Program Could Encourage NYers to Make Healthier Choices (Spectrum News NY 1)
- Get the Good Stuff: New York City program incentivizes healthy purchases with SNAP funds (Eyewitness News ABC7)
- Three Guys from Brooklyn Promotes Nutrition Incentives (Progressive Grocer)
- City to Expand SNAP Rewards to Underserved Nabes (Brooklyn Paper)
- New Yorkers who receive SNAP benefits can earn matching dollars on purchase of fruit and vegetables (New York Daily News)
- Good Health, Good Value: NYC Receives $5.5 Million Grant to Make Healthy Food More Affordable to New Yorkers (NYC Health)
- USDA Awards $69 Million in Grants to Improve Food Access in Low-Income Communities (Modern Farmer)
- P140 Get the Good Stuff in NYC: Baseline Survey Findings of a Supermarket-Based Nutrition Incentive Program (Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour)