In spring of 2019, MFFM was approached by the City of Bangor’s Wellness Committee to develop a program that gives their 500+ employees incentive to buy healthy food from the local farmers’ markets.
How It Worked
City of Bangor employees received two $10 vouchers in June and two more in August to spend at one of four farmers’ markets in the area. To receive the vouchers, employees completed some simple lessons on nutrition and wellness.
Each participating market took place on different days, and included nearby towns where employees lived and drove through, such as Hampden and Brewer.
How it Was Funded
Each year, the city’s Wellness Committee engages in projects that improve the health of their employees. Funds for these activities are granted by Cigna, the health insurer for the employees of the City of Bangor.
Farmers’ markets posed a unique opportunity to support multiple local businesses, while also educating employees and providing access and incentives for healthy food options. This type of employer-market partnership is a great community-building tool for farmers’ markets. With this partnership, markets gain new customers, people change their shopping habits, and employers have an opportunity to provide a reward to their employees. Such employer partnerships can also serve as an alternative to sponsorships from local businesses for the market.
- Brewer Farmers’ Market (Saturdays)
- Bangor Farmers’ Market (Sundays)
- Hampden Farmers’ Market (Fridays)
- Ohio Street Farmers’ Market (Wednesdays)
How the Markets Used the Program
The participating markets all had information booths to welcome shoppers. Upon arrival, employees presented their $10 vouchers to information booth staff. The employee would then receive $10 in market currency to go spend with vendors at the market that day.
Markets collected and tracked the incoming vouchers, and submitted invoices to their contacts at the City each month for reimbursement. Only money spent was reimbursed, meaning no wasted funds.
- Over $1700 worth of vouchers were redeemed at the four farmers’ markets
- 45% of participants had never shopped at a farmers’ market before
- Half of all first-time shoppers returned to shop at farmers’ markets again
- 80% of all participants spent some their own money at market, resulting in $777 going to local farmers, artists and producers
- 43% of participants said that the program led them to shop more at farmers’ markets throughout the season