Seattle’s Fresh Bucks Program Launches New Electronic Benefits to Offer a More Equitable Shopping Experience
Over 12,000 Seattle residents enrolled in Fresh Bucks can now shop with their Fresh Bucks Card or app, eliminating the need for paper vouchers and improving customer and retailer experiences.
SEATTLE (October 4, 2021) – Fresh Bucks, a healthy food program that provides monthly cash assistance to eligible and enrolled Seattle residents so they can buy fruits and vegetables, is providing customers a new way to shop for produce using an electronic benefits system. The new system replaces the use of paper vouchers, leading to smoother transactions at checkout and an improved experience for over 12,000 Fresh Bucks customers and 43 participating retailers and farmers markets.
“Families on a tight budget consistently say cost is the primary barrier to buying and eating healthy food. Fresh Bucks directly addresses this barrier by increasing the purchasing power of lower income families so they can afford more fruits and vegetables,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “I have been proud to see the Fresh Bucks program grow, and am excited for this move to electronic benefits, which came as a direct response to community feedback.”
The ability to pay for Fresh Bucks fruit and vegetable purchases with a card or app will reduce the stigma customers may experience using paper vouchers at checkout. With e-benefits, households that use Fresh Bucks will have the same shopping experience as consumers using other forms of payment at the grocery checkout line. With the new system, customers have access to a Fresh Bucks account that is automatically loaded with $40 each month. Customers can use a Fresh Bucks Card or an app linked to their account to purchase fruits and vegetables at participating Fresh Bucks retailers.
The new system also provides real-time transaction reporting and retailer reimbursement within two business days, reducing challenges for small grocers, farmers, and other business owners who accept Fresh Bucks. Finally, the system will standardize how benefits are processed across different participating retailers, which will streamline the City’s efforts to make Fresh Bucks accepted at even more retail locations.
“As a Fresh Bucks community partner, I am thrilled to be a part of the e-benefits launch,” said Luzmila Freese, Community Program Director at Latino Community Fund. “Our clients were accustomed to receiving paper vouchers in the mail every month and this was burdensome and presented program challenges. The new process is streamlined and as easy as scanning your card or app for payment. At the end of the day, families should be able to afford healthy foods and that process should be simple and that’s what the e-benefits model does.”
Later this fall and throughout the coming year, the Office of Sustainability and Environment is expected to announce a variety of new retailers where customers can use their Fresh Bucks, including large supermarkets, small independent stores, and grocers that offer culturally specific produce items. The new retailers were recruited through a competitive application process that ran in spring 2021.
Seattle residents interested in applying for 2022 Fresh Bucks benefits can submit an application to the public lottery between October 11 to October 29, 2021. Applications are available in 14 languages and will be accepted online or over the phone by calling 1-800-756-5437.
To learn more about e-benefits and how to apply for Fresh Bucks visit www.SeattleFreshBucks.org.
Fresh Bucks is funded by Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax and General Fund and operated by Seattle’s Office of Sustainability and Environment.