If you’ve been to the farmers market lately, you may have seen some signs and pamphlets advertising the AARP Fresh Savings Program. But what is the program about? It is a program designed to help those with limited incomes gain better access to fresh, healthy foods by doubling the value of their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called “food stamps”) benefit cards. Here are the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
Q: The sign says AARP. Is this just for elderly people?
A: No, anyone with a SNAP card is eligible for Fresh Savings. The program is sponsored in part by AARP, as well as some other large corporations, who are concerned about enabling those with limited incomes to access fresh food.
Q: What are the tokens for?
A: Our vendors don’t have the ability to accept SNAP benefit cards, but the market itself does. A person with a SNAP card can come to the market manager and swipe their SNAP card in exchange for tokens which can be used just like cash at the farmers market on the same goods one would buy in a grocery store. The market will also match the SNAP tokens with Fresh Savings tokens, so that person has twice as much money to spend at the farmers market.
Q: What can I buy with the Fresh Savings tokens?
A: If youlook closely at the Fresh Savings tokens, you will notice that the writing on them is green and says “Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Only”. That means that you can use the green Fresh Savings tokens to purchase produce so you can save the blue SNAP tokens for purchases of meat, eggs, dairy, bread and prepared foods, as well as produce.
Q: Can I use the tokens at other farmers markets?
A: No, the tokens should only be used at the market where they were purchased. A lot of bookkeeping goes into the issue, collection and reimbursement of tokens, and when you use one market’s tokens at another market, it means the market that issued the tokens can’t be properly reimbursed for the program by the USDA, which provides funding for the Fresh Savings program.
Still have more questions? Please feel free to come to the info table and ask the market manager!