AgroFood Digital Solutions Policy & Regulation

New York’s FreshConnect Goes Digital

Governor Kathy Hochul has launched a digital FreshConnect pilot program to facilitate the use of SNAP benefits
Key Takeaways
  • Enhanced Accessibility: The new digital FreshConnect pilot program makes it easier for SNAP recipients to buy local farm products by enabling digital transactions at farmers’ markets.
  • Convenience for Farmers: The program simplifies the redemption process for farmers, making participation less cumbersome and ensuring quicker payments.
  • Increased Coupon Capacity: The FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative has significantly increased the number of coupons available, allowing more families to access fresh produce.
  • Economic and Nutritional Boost: This initiative aims to improve nutrition for New Yorkers and provide economic support to local farmers by facilitating the purchase of fresh, local products like fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy.
  • Potential for Expansion: While currently available at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market, there is potential for the program to expand to additional markets.

Governor Hochul’s announcement on the launch of a digital version of the FreshConnect program is a transformative move for both consumers and producers in the New York State agricultural sector. By initiating the digital FreshConnect program, eligible New Yorkers can utilize a more efficient and user-friendly digital option to purchase SNAP-eligible farm products. The initiative began at the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market, aiming to broaden the reach to more families battling food scarcity.

The program allows the market manager to add FreshConnect currency to a consumer’s digital account. Shoppers can then use a QR code to carry out transactions at the farmers’ market, seamlessly deducting the purchase from their accounts. This modern approach overcomes the limitations of physical coupons by allowing any increment for purchases, and it sets a daily cap of $50 per cardholder to maintain consistency with the FreshConnect program’s standards.

For farmers, the digital system presents a time-saving and more efficient payment process, negating the need for handling physical coupons and expediting their revenue cycle. The trial will run through the end of the year at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market, with prospects for extending to other markets where FreshConnect is accepted.

The FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative has also escalated its impact by increasing coupon availability for SNAP participants at farmers’ markets, surging from 156 percent to 750,000 in the current year. The initiative, post the cessation of federal relief funding due to the pandemic, has modified the matching system, allowing eligible New Yorkers to double up to $50 per day, enhancing their purchasing power.

Moreover, the Department of Agriculture and Markets has doubled the distribution of FreshConnect Checks for Veterans and their immediate family members, intensifying support for this group.

State and local officials celebrate the digital FreshConnect program as a meaningful advancement that not only supports vulnerable populations through improved access to healthy food but also bolsters local agriculture. It is a significant step in New York’s efforts to marry technology with social welfare programs to foster a more inclusive and prosperous community for all its residents.

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