Submitted by the San Juan Island Farmers Market
As of July 2018, the San Juan Island Farmers Market has a program where customers can double their food assistance purchases up to $20. The pilot program is possible thanks to the San Juan County Health and Community Services, San Juan Food Co-op, San Juan Island Family Resource Center, The Hunger Coalition Project and local donations.
Those who receive food assistance receive an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. The way this program works is, EBT customers can swipe their cards at the manager’s booth at the farmers market inside Brickworks. They receive up to $20 matching bucks for their EBT purchase. So, if they put $20 on their EBT card, they receive a total of $40.
While the medium property value in San Juan County is $456,800 and the population is around 16,056, the poverty rate is 11.1 percent or roughly 1,766 people living below the poverty line. Nearly the same amount of residents who live under the poverty line in San Juan County, make $150,000 or more, while (6.7 percent earn $200,000-plus and 4.5 percent earn $150,000-$200,000. See more at https://datausa.io/profile/geo/san-juan-county-wa.
Opportunities like the matching program allow low-income island residents to have access to healthy, fresh, organic and island-grown food. Although the “income-to-cost-of-living” disparity is apparent, the farmers market hopes to be a place where all residents can come for healthy food options.
The San Juan Island Food Co-op is doing the same program, though Fresh Bucks purchases are limited to fruits and vegetables only. Fresh Bucks at the farmers market can be used for all EBT food including produce, meat, cheese, salt, honey, eggs, bread and more.
Nourish to Flourish-Coalition to End Hunger on San Juan Island is offering $20 Fresh Bucks every time you shop at the farmers market and the food co-op. The Fresh Bucks program’s goal is that everyone should have access to fresh, healthy, local food. Nourish to Flourish in partnership with the San Juan Island Family Resource Center, San Juan County Health and Community Services, Friday Harbor Food Bank, farmers market and the food co-op is helping to make healthy food more affordable.
Basic Food, formerly known as food stamps, is available to individuals and families who are, for example, earning less than $4,183 a month or $50,196 per year for a family of four. Clients receive an EBT card allowing them to purchase foods at authorized retailers such as bread, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs. In addition, seeds and plants that produce food for the household to eat are also eligible.
How to qualify
Basic Food and Women, Infants, Children program participants are automatically eligible for Fresh Bucks. If you think you may be income-eligible for basic food benefits, contact the health department at 360-378-4474, the San Juan Island Family Resource Center at 360-378-5246, or visit www.dshs.wa.gov/BFET. In addition, San Juan is offering the Fresh Bucks incentive to local residents whose incomes qualify for Basic Food but are not enrolled.
Other food assistance programs:
San Juan Island has resources to help ensure individuals and families are accessing healthy food. Call 360-378-4474 to find out more information on these programs.
• WIC program: Food vouchers and nutrition services for pregnant and postpartum women, children up to age 5 and their families.
• Basic Food or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance: This program is available to low-income individuals and families as a monthly benefit to buy food.
• San Juan Island Food Bank: The Friday Harbor Food Bank is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, noon-2 p.m. and distributes canned food, eggs, milk, bread and other commodities, plus seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables.
• Free and reduced school lunch program: The San Juan Island School District offers free and reduced meals during the school year to children whose income qualifies. Contact 360-378-4133 to find out more information.
• 36 Weekends: Starting in the fall of 2018, providing shelf stable food packages for elementary children to take home on the weekends. For info, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, contact the county health department at 360-378-4474 or the family resource center at 360-378-5246.