California-based Harvest Market is the first grocery store in the U.S. to bring healthy food incentives straight onto a customer's EBT card.
The independent grocer began participating in the incentive rebate program last month, providing participants in CalFresh (California’s federally funded food assistance benefits program, also known as SNAP), the opportunity to earn matching dollars when they buy California-grown fruits and vegetables.
If a shopper buys $5 worth of local produce, they receive $5 on their EBT card, Harvest Market said in a statement on Monday.
The program comes on the heels of recent federal rollbacks of SNAP Emergency Allotments, which have eliminated pandemic-related funding to cut about $95 a month from the average recipient's benefits.
“Right now, with inflation, a reduction in public assistance benefits and pandemic benefits ending, people need help. And they need help on eating fresher, healthier food,” said Harvest Market VP Jennifer Bosma in a statement. “This program gets fresh produce into more homes and encourages people to eat healthier. They get more food for their EBT dollar, and it helps California farmers.”
Spearheaded by the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the program, which will run through December, allows shoppers to earn up to $60 in rebates per month at the Harvest Market locations in Fort Bragg and Mendocino, California.
California Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula introduced a $94 million proposal (AB 605) in the California Legislature to expand this program to reach hundreds of thousands of people at grocery stores and farmers markets across the state, Harvest Market said in a statement, adding: “These programs have been proven to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables leading to reduced hunger, improved health and increased business for the California agriculture industry.”
Harvest Market is a family-owned business started by Tom Honer in 1985. It now operates three stores in northern California.