Fresh Take Blog
Food Access

We’ve Made Some Changes to FreshMatch. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Mar. 23, 2023

In 2009, FRESHFARM became the first organization in Washington, DC, and among the first nationally to offer SNAP/EBT shoppers an incentive match, a program that has evolved and expanded over the years into today’s FreshMatch. 

The FreshMatch program provides an incentive match on all federal benefits spent at market (SNAP/EBT and WIC and Senior FMNP), helping shoppers take home more fresh and nutritious produce and local foods while creating and sustaining new revenue streams for local farmers and food producers.

Starting in April 2023, FRESHFARM is making two significant changes to our FreshMatch Program. 

Change One:
Starting in April, we are placing a cap on all SNAP FreshMatch transactions at $30 per household per day.

Customers are free to convert as much of their SNAP benefits into coupons as they wish, but the amount of incentive dollars that FRESHFARM can distribute is capped at $30 per household per day. For example, a $10 transaction will result in $10 in purple SNAP coupons and $10 in white FreshMatch coupons, a $40 transaction will result in $40 in purple SNAP coupons and $30 in white FreshMatch coupons, and so on. 

The WIC and Senior FMNP matching cap will be maintained at $10 per household per day.

Why is FRESHFARM making this change?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, FRESHFARM began offering an unlimited incentive match to shoppers using nutrition benefits in summer of 2020. This change was a sharp departure from pre-pandemic standards when we capped the incentive match at $10 per shopper per transaction per day, an amount aligned with incentive programs across the nation.

Facing finite funding resources, capping the incentive match will allow FRESHFARM to assist as many shoppers using benefits as possible, albeit with limits, without running the risk of depleting the USDA GusNIP grant that funds this work before the end of the grant period.

How did FRESHFARM arrive at $30 per household per day?

In 2021 and 2022, the average and median of all SNAP/EBT transactions at FRESHFARM markets were between $20 and $26, and the top two most frequent transaction amounts were $10 and $20. 

Capping SNAP FreshMatch incentives at $30 per household per day allows FRESHFARM and our partners to better allocate finite resources while meeting the needs of as many shoppers as possible.

Change Two:
Starting in April 2023, FreshMatch incentives can only be spent on SNAP-eligible foods. 

Starting in April, both red and white FreshMatch incentive coupons can only be spent on SNAP-eligible products, which include fruits and vegetables; meat, poultry, and fish; eggs and dairy products; baked goods and cereals; packaged foods meant to be eaten at home (for example, jams and jellies, pasta, sauce, frozen and heat-and-eat meals); and plants which produce food for the household to eat.

Examples of ineligible items include beer, wine, liquor, vitamins or supplements, prepared foods fit for immediate consumption, skin care products, and flowers.

In 2021 and 2022, approximately 90% or more of FreshMatch incentives were spent on SNAP-eligible foods. In 2021 and 2022, between 6% and 12% (respectively) of FreshMatch spending was spent on non-SNAP-eligible goods. 

Why is FRESHFARM placing product restrictions on FreshMatch spending?

FRESHFARM is making this change to facilitate standardization and reciprocity of incentive programs across organizations, programs, and partners in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. This change also mirrors USDA SNAP eligibility guidelines.

A multi-year USDA GusNIP grant funds FreshMatch, and one of the goals is to increase interconnectivity between the healthy food incentive programs across the region. By allowing FreshMatch incentives to be spent on any market product, FRESHFARM was an outlier, unlike other programs in the region and country. 

GusNIP incentive funds can only be spent on SNAP incentives for fruits and vegetables. Most other incentive programs only offer SNAP incentives for fruits and vegetables, with some offering SNAP incentives for SNAP-eligible foods. Even fewer partners can provide incentives for WIC or Senior FMNP benefits spent at market.  

FRESHFARM provides FreshMatch incentives on all SNAP and FMNP purchases, but this is outside the scope of the GusNIP grant, and we pay for this with available unrestricted money.

Aligning policies across markets and programs is an essential first step in creating a regionally standardized incentive program, consolidating outreach and marketing efforts, and supporting improved management, data collection, and financial reporting systems for all of our partners across the region.

Thank you in advance for your understanding, and we look forward to seeing you at market.

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