Last month, Wholesome Wave, an organization dedicated to increasing access to and the affordability of locally grown foods in historically excluded urban and rural communities, received a $600,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente. Most of the funding will be used to support Wholesome Wave's Double Value Coupon Program, which doubles the value of SNAP benefits when they are used at participating farmers' markets. Currently, there are 160 farmers markets in 20 states that participate in Wholesome Wave's Double Value Coupon Program.
Funding for Kaiser Permanent's grant to Wholesome Wave was raised through their employee wellness program, Healthy Workforce. Kaiser Permanente contributed $50 for each employee who took a health risk assessment and almost 23,000 employees participated. Kaiser Permanente's grant to Wholesome Wave to increase participation at farmers' markets is fitting since Kaiser Permanente was the first health care organization to hold farmers' markets at its hospitals. Currently, the organization hosts 40 farmers' markets at facilities in four states.
One of the best ways to stimulate your local economy is to increase SNAP participation. Every $5 in SNAP benefits spent, can produce up to $9 in local economic activity. Wholesome Wave's Coupon Program only increases these local benefits as participants get fresh foods and local farmers and producers increase their customer base. In 2010, Wholesome Wave's programs generated more than $1 million in sales at farmers' markets through their incentives, which directly impacted income of more than 1,700 farmers and more than 700 local product makers throughout the United States. If there is not a farmers' market near you that participates in the Wholesome Wave Double Value Coupon Program, there are still many farmers' markets that accept SNAP benefits. You can find a list of SNAP retailers, including farmers' markets, in your state by visiting the online SNAP Retail Locator