The Maine Harvest Bucks program offers nutrition incentives (bonuses) to low-income shoppers at participating farmers’ markets, CSA farms, farm stands, and retail stores (co-ops and food-hubs) selling local produce. With Maine Harvest Bucks, shoppers using SNAP benefits via an EBT card* gain access to healthy, local food and receive bonus local fresh fruits and vegetables, stretching limited benefits much further. Increasing the number of consumers who buy local food contributes to the growth of our local economy, creates community connections, and facilitates healthy eating!
Currently there are 31 farmers’ markets, plus CSA farms and other venues accepting SNAP benefits and working with the Maine Local Foods Access Network to offer Harvest Bucks incentives during the 2016 season. Search our database to find Maine Harvest Bucks markets and visit maineharvestbucks.org to see a listing of all the farmers’ markets and other sites.
*SNAP = Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a federally-funded benefit program specific to the purchase of food
*EBT = Electronic Benefit Transfer, the method by which SNAP benefits (and occasionally other funds) are distributed to the individual, similar to a debit card
Additional Program Details
The Maine Local Foods Access Network (MLFAN) is a group of nonprofits collaborating to improve low-income access to locally grown food across the state.
Currently, MLFAN’s primary project is to coordinate and expand the Maine Harvest Bucks program, which provides farmers’ markets and other local food market venues, such as food hubs and CSA farms with federal funding to support nutrition incentives for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) shoppers.
In partnership with Wholesome Wave, a national nonprofit working to increase affordable access to fresh, local, and regional food, MLFAN received a federal grant for nutrition incentives, the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant (FINI). FINI funding is intended to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables by low-income residents receiving SNAP benefits.
FINI nutrition incentives (“Maine Harvest Bucks”) are issued to SNAP customers at markets based on how much SNAP they use to purchase any SNAP-eligible food items at market. FINI incentives can be redeemed only for fruit and vegetables fresh or processed without salt, sugar, or fat added.
Markets wishing to participate in the FINI project and be a part of the Maine Harvest Bucks program should look for next year’s call for new market applications, likely to be announced in January 2017.
Market Participation Requirements
- Must be authorized to accept SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) payments.
- Must have a valid FNS number from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and have obtained a Point of Sale (POS) device.
- Need to demonstrate that the market as a whole has decided to participate in the FINI grant. (In most cases, the market will submit a copy of the relevant meeting minutes when the decision was reached.)
- Must have a designated staff person or volunteer responsible for the project who has the capacity to fulfill requirements of the program.
- Have an established, written plan for reimbursing vendors for SNAP sales and incentive redemption at least biweekly.
Questions about Maine Harvest Bucks at farmers’ markets?
Farmers’ markets: Jimmy DeBiasi SNAP@mffm.org (207-487-7114)
Questions about Maine Harvest Bucks at other site types?
CSAs: Heather Omand: firstname.lastname@example.org
Farm stands and mobile markets: Kathleen McKersie, email@example.com
Co-ops and food hubs: Shannon Grimes, firstname.lastname@example.org (207- 338-6575)
The Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets and the Maine Local Food Access Network is part of Wholesome Wave’s National Nutrition Incentive Network.