The city is looking to pair needy New Yorkers with struggling small businesses through an innovative expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — giving money to economically-burdened citizens that can be redeemed at local mom-and-pop shops throughout the Five Boroughs.
The new program, which utilizes federal dollars recently granted by President Joe Biden’s administration, will help keep food on the table for city dwellers while providing participating grocery stores, such as Three Guys from Brooklyn on the border of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, said the leader behind the effort.
“We want to increase participation in this program to benefit New Yorkers more, while also supporting small businesses, like Three Guys, as well as farmers and farmers markets,” said Michelle Morse, the deputy commissioner for the Center of Health Equity and Community Wellness and chief medical officer of the city’s Health Department.
The two new programs, Get the Good Stuff and Health Bucks, allow SNAP recipients to redeem extra spending money for fresh and frozen produce every time they purchase healthy items. For Health Bucks, participants can get a $2 coupon for every $5 spent at farmers markets, while Get the Good Stuff allows recipients to get an extra dollar to their card for every dollar spent on fresh, frozen, canned, and dried fruits, vegetables, and beans at participating grocery stores.
Shoppers with food stamps can collect up to $10 of incentives per day using Health Bucks at farmers markets, and up to $50 in incentives per day using Get the Good Stuff at supermarkets.
Under the four-year program expansions — which were funded by a $5.5 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture — the Health Department will add two more grocery stores to the Get the Good Stuff program by working with the city’s task force on racial inclusion and equity to identify the neighborhoods hardest-hit by COVID-19 and income inequality.
The grant will also fund the added benefits to the Health Bucks program. Rather than getting a $2 coupon for every $5 spent at farmers markets, SNAP recipients can now get $2 coupon for every $2 spent.
The additional stores and incentives hope to help locals struggling with food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only caused unemployment rates to skyrocket, but also makes access to a whole and healthy diet more important than ever.