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A new pilot project aims to make it easier to use food assistance benefits, like SNAP, to get fresh produce.

With the ongoing pandemic, many businesses have added e-commerce platforms to safely connect with their customers. This includes local farms and farmers markets that have added online sales systems over the past year. At the same time, the pandemic has worsened food insecurity and more consumers across the state are eligible for food assistance benefits. 

Partly inspired by these realities, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Taste the Local Difference (TLD) launched the Fresh Food Box campaign. The goal of this pilot is to increase fresh food access for SNAP-eligible communities in Detroit and Ypsilanti by connecting them to farmers offering fresh produce through online stores. 

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

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

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.

In Ypsilanti, the participating organizations are Old City Acres and the Ypsilanti Ar​ea Online Market. To find more information about how to sign up with any of the nearby community farms, or for information about the Fresh Food Box program, visit localdifference.org/freshfoodbox.

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