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Fresh Food Box Program Increases Access to Fresh Produce and Supports Farm’s Viability

Many local food businesses, including farms and farmers markets, added e-commerce platforms to safely connect with their customers throughout the pandemic. At the same time, food insecurity increased across the country and more consumers in Michigan became eligible for food assistance benefits (SNAP/EBT). Unfortunately, SNAP benefits are not able to be used in online payments at small local food businesses, like farmers markets or farms.

The Fresh Food Box program, a partnership between The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Taste the Local Difference (TLD), seeks to support easy access to fresh produce and online sales for farmers. Participating farms receive funds to set up their e-commerce platforms, to create work-arounds for accepting SNAP/EBT through their online stores, and for marketing their business to SNAP customers. Community health clinics are also engaged to refer food insecure individuals to the participating Fresh Food Box farms. 

“Everyone deserves convenient, safe access to fresh, high quality food and this program supports that,” says Kelly Wilson, Director of Community Partners for Taste the Local Difference.

Six farms and markets, four in Detroit and two near Ypsilanti, are currently participating in the program with plans for expansion next season. Each participating farm or market accepts SNAP/EBT (Bridge Cards) through their online store and some offer Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) – a program that gives SNAP/EBT (Bridge Card) shoppers a 50% discount on produce. 

“As a growers cooperative, we have a strong belief in sharing the wealth, whether financial or edible,” says Alice Bagley of City Commons CSA.  “We are so happy to be a part of this program and be able to expand the reach of our produce to more Detroiters!” 

Individuals and families interested in fresh food can select the Fresh Food Box farm that meets their needs based on location, delivery, payment option, and type of products offered. They can then register directly with their desired farm and pay using SNAP/EBT (and P-EBT) or their other preferred payment method.

For more information about the program, participating farms and how to sign up, go here.

For more information about SNAP eligibility, https://newmibridges.michigan.gov/

Kelly Wilson, RDN, is the Director of Community Partners for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at kelly@localdifference.org

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Header Photo Credit: Fair Food Network

Photo Credit: Old City Acres

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