Agriculture_Markets
Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 
 
 FreshConnect Checks Program

FreshConnect Checks Program

 
Managers | Farmers | Customers

What is the FreshConnect Checks Program?

Purpose: Governor Cuomo launched the FreshConnect Program in 2011 to create new farmers’ markets and support existing markets that provide outlets for fresh food in high need neighborhoods. FreshConnect aims to expand access to fresh food in underserved communities, to improve the diets of individuals in those communities, and to foster economic development.

The FreshConnect Checks Program is a component of Governor Andrew Cuomo's FreshConnect Program. The program was designed to increase the purchasing power of SNAP consumers by 40 percent while supporting local farmers, farmers’ markets, farm stands and mobile markets. And in 2014 the FreshConnect Checks Program also became available to Veterans, Servicemembers, and their immediate family members at regional Division of Veterans’ Affairs offices on a first come, first served basis to be used to purchase fresh foods at participating farmers markets and farm stands.

Participants: The FreshConnect Checks Program includes the farmers or vendors who sell SNAP eligible food items at any farmers market, farm stand or mobile market in New York State. It also includes farmers’ markets that enroll and participate in the NYS Wireless EBT Program and any farmers’ markets, farm stands or mobile markets operating in New York State where eligible food items are sold.

Other key participants include the customers with SNAP benefits, as well as Veterans, Servicemembers, and their immediate family members.

Benefits: Why would someone want to participate in the program? The reasons may vary. This program can be an additional revenue source for farmers or vendors, or a way to attract a new customer base. It could also:

  • help expand access to fresh food in underserved communities;
  • help improve the diets of individuals in those communities;
  • or help foster economic development.
And further, participating in the FreshConnect Checks Program is another way for the community to show appreciation to Veterans, Servicemembers and their immediate family members for their service to our country.

Training
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets now offers a pre-recorded training webinar for managers and farmers or vendors interested in participating in the FreshConnect Checks Program. This webinar is roughly 30 minutes long and involves a voluntary survey at the end. For those who wish to receive email confirmation of the training, they must take the survey. Click this link to begin: FreshConnect Checks Webinar Training.


How it works:
Fresh Connect Checks are used to purchase SNAP eligible food items. This includes the items you see below, but this is not a complete list. For a complete list, refer to the USDA’s list of SNAP Eligible Food items found online: www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items.

Eligible (YES):
  • Breads & Cereals
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Meats, Fish & Poultry
  • Honey
  • Coffee (whole beans and/or ground)
  • Mushrooms
  • Apple Cider
  • Dairy Products
  • Pasta
  • Baked Goods (for home consumption)
  • Seeds/Plants (which produce food)
NOT eligible (NO):
  • Beer, Wine & Liquor
  • Cigarettes & Tobacco
  • Pet Foods
  • Soaps & Lotions
  • Vitamins & Medicines
  • Hot Foods (for consumption at the market)
  • Other Prepared Foods (for consumption at the market)

Complete list: www.fns.usda.gov/snap/eligible-food-items


Managers

Participation: If you are a manager of a market and wish to have your market participate in the FreshConnect Checks Program, please check out our new training webinar: FreshConnect Checks Webinar Training for further information, and then contact the Department. This webinar is roughly 30 minutes long and involves a voluntary survey at the end.
(Note: all markets which are authorized to participate in the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program will be mailed FreshConnect Check signs to distribute to their Farmers and/or Vendors who wish to participate.)

Community: If you would like to locate your regional veterans affairs office in order to build and foster a relationship with your veteran community, call NYS Division of Veterans’ Affairs:

    Benjamin Pomerance, Deputy Director for Program Development,
    Phone: (518) 474-6114
    Online: www.veterans.ny.gov
You can also locate a list of regional offices online here.

Find a Market: To locate other farmers’ markets that participate in FreshConnect Checks Program, go to: www.agriculture.ny.gov, Find A Farmers’ Market. Participating markets will be indicated by “FCC Accepted”. Markets that issue FreshConnect Checks are indicated by “FCC Issued”.

For more information on the NYS Wireless EBT Program at farmers markets, contact: Farmers Market Federation of NY, www.nyfarmersmarket.com, or call (315) 400-1447.

If there is a question about redeeming FreshConnect Checks Program please read the entire check. There instructions are on the back of the check. Or, you can refer to the webinar training.

FreshConnect Checks need to be mailed, along with the Universal Redemption form to:

    Farmers’ Market Federation of New York
    117 Highbridge St, Suite U1
    Fayetteville, NY 13066

Forms: Here are Forms you will need as a Manager operating the program.

  • FCC Rules and Procedures for Market Managers (FCC-2)
  • FCC Rules and Procedures for Farmers/Vendors (FCC-1) (to give to farmers)
  • FCC Universal Redemption Form (FCC-3)
  • FCC Check Issuance Log Sheet - Farmers Markets (FCC-4)


Farmers

If you are a farmer or vendor selling SNAP eligible food items and wish to accept and redeem FreshConnect Checks, please check out our new training webinar: FreshConnect Checks Webinar Training for further information. This webinar is roughly 30 minutes long and involves a voluntary survey at the end. For those who wish to receive email confirmation of the training, they must take the survey.

Find a Market: To find a farmers’ market that participates in FreshConnect Checks go to: www.agriculture.ny.gov, Find A Farmers’ Market. Participating markets will be indicated by “FCC Accepted”. Markets that issue FreshConnect Checks are indicated by “FCC Issued”.

If there is a question about redeeming FreshConnect Checks please read the entire check. There instructions are on the back of the check. Or, you can refer to the webinar training.

FreshConnect Checks need to be mailed, along with the Universal Redemption form to:

    Farmers’ Market Federation of New York
    117 Highbridge St, Suite U1
    Fayetteville, NY 13066

Forms: Here are Forms you will need as a Farmer or Vendor.

  • FCC Rules and Procedures for Farmers/Vendors (FCC-1)
  • FCC Universal Redemption Form - for Farmers/Vendors (FCC-3)
  • FCC FreshConnect Checks Sign (must request from Manager or Department)


Customers

Customers should look for the FreshConnect Checks sign, seen here to identify if a farmer or vendor is participating in the FreshConnect Checks Program.

SNAP Participants
If you are a recipient of SNAP benefits and wish to use those benefits at a farmers’ market, check here for participating markets: www.agriculture.ny.gov, then click “Find A Farmers’ Market”. You may also navigate to the SNAP-to-Market for more information about SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets. While at a participating farmers market, you may be eligible to receive FreshConnect Checks in addition to your SNAP benefit. For every $5 in SNAP benefits a customer exchanges for wooden tokens, the manager may issue a $2 FreshConnect Check. This check may be spent at the market on any SNAP eligible food item.

Veterans
If you are a Veteran, Servicemember or an immediate family member, please call the DVA for more information on how to obtain FreshConnect Checks. Veterans interested in obtaining FreshConnect checks should call: 1-888-838-7697. You may be eligible to receive FreshConnect Checks through the Division of Veterans' Affairs offices on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies are available. You can then shop with these FreshConnect Checks at farmers’ markets or farm stands in New York State, and redeem them for any SNAP eligible food item.

If you would like more information how to use the FreshConnect Checks benefit you’ve received, you can watch our instructional webinar about the program, or navigate to the FreshConnect website: www.freshconnect.ny.gov.

Find a Market: To find a farmers’ market that participates in FreshConnect Checks go to: www.agriculture.ny.gov, Find A Farmers’ Market. Participating markets will be indicated by “FCC Accepted”. Markets that issue FreshConnect Checks are indicated by “FCC Issued”.

To find a farmers’ market that participates in SNAP go to www.snaptomarket.com.

If there is a question about using FreshConnect Checks please read the entire check. There instructions are on the front of the check. Or, you can refer to the webinar training.

 


FreshConnect Checks Program Forms and Documents

Educational Materials


Revised 5/21/2018