For the past 3 years, much of this program was funded via the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant, in partnership with Wholesome Wave. During this time, the Maine Harvest Bucks brand has grown to be recognized by SNAP shoppers, farmers, and community members. Markets that offer Maine Harvest Bucks are welcoming to SNAP shoppers, empowering them to shop local, eat more fresh produce, and build new relationships in their community.
Maine Harvest Bucks (MHB) are issued to SNAP customers at markets based on how many SNAP dollars they spend to purchase any eligible food items at market. MHB can be redeemed only for fruit and vegetables (fresh or processed with no salt, sugar, or fat added). MHB funding is intended to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables by low-income residents receiving SNAP benefits.
We have submitted proposals to help fund Maine Harvest Bucks for this year and many years to come. At this point it looks like the earliest MFFM will have funding will likely be the end of June. Participating markets will need to plan accordingly. (read more about our funding update here).
Why markets should participate:
- Maine Harvest Bucks can increase market members’ sales. Thanks to the FINI incentives that stretch their dollars, SNAP shoppers will buy more of all sorts of SNAP-eligible foods.
- Maine Harvest Bucks help local SNAP shoppers get more food. Thanks to the USDA FINI funding, SNAP shoppers will be able to get extra produce at your market.
- Maine Harvest Bucks change behaviors and bring new customers. The program helps to create positive first-time experiences for low-income shoppers at markets, resulting in new and repeat customers.
- Participating brings additional promotion and marketing resources to your market. MFFM will provide ready-to-use marketing materials that can be adapted for use in your community. Additionally, there will be statewide marketing of the Maine Harvest Bucks program.
- Maine Harvest Bucks builds partnerships and the local economy. Many community organizations want to help increase low-income access to local food across Maine, and may provide additional resources for your market if they see that you are participating in this program. And since SNAP is a federally funded benefit, building a SNAP program at your market helps bring those federal dollars to your community and keeps them circulating locally.
Markets participating in the program will receive the following support from MFFM:
- Promotion and marketing:
- Access to customizable promotional materials to promote the market’s incentive program, create scrip (vouchers), etc.;
- Inclusion in statewide marketing efforts to promote the program;
- Reimbursement for pre-approved local MHB outreach activities;
- Funds to reimburse farmers for Maine Harvest Bucks that are redeemed at market and reported within established guidelines;
- Possible funds for volunteer stipend to operate MHB program;
- Technical support with program administration; and
- Access to discounted pricing for EBT, credit, and debit point of sale processing.
Note: We are still working to secure funding for the 2018 season. In the past, funds have been available by June, but this year it may be later.
To participate in 2018, a market:
- Must be authorized to accept SNAP Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. At least one season of experience with EBT is preferred.
- Must have a valid FNS number from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and have contracted for a Point of Sale (POS) device by no later than March 15th, 2018.
- Needs to demonstrate that the market as a whole has decided to participate in the Maine Harvest Bucks program. (In most cases, the market will submit a copy of the relevant meeting minutes reflecting notes from when the decision was reached.)
- Must have a designated staff person or volunteer responsible for the project who has the capacity to fulfill and/or delegate requirements of the program.
- Must have an established plan for reimbursing vendors at least biweekly.