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What is Produce Perks?
Nine farmers’ markets in Hamilton County are participating in a program that offers incentive dollars to customers utilizing the Ohio Direction Card.
“Produce Perks” is an initiative modeled after a similar program in Cuyahoga County. It is administered by OSU Extension, Hamilton County in partnership with the City of Cincinnati Health Department; and the City of Cincinnati Creating Healthy Communities initiative. The focus of the program is on access and affordability of healthy fruits and vegetables for underserved consumers.
Produce Perks are incentive tokens given to customers at participating farmers’ markets who use an Ohio Direction Card (“electronic benefits transfer” or EBT card) to purchase food. A customer wishing to use their food assistance benefits can swipe their card at one central terminal, located at participating market’s information booths, and ask to withdraw a desired amount. The market provides tokens for the transaction and additional Produce Perks that can be spent on fruits and vegetables. The incentive is a dollar-for-dollar match to every dollar spent (up to $10) using an Ohio Direction Card at the market. There is no minimum purchase amount to qualify for the incentives and Produce Perks tokens are usable at all five participating markets. As the name suggests, Produce Perks are only good for purchasing fruits and vegetables. All other tokens purchased with the Ohio Direction Card are good to use on eligible items at the market.
The Produce Perks program increases affordability and accessibility to healthful foods for low-income populations. Furthermore, the program supports local economies and will seek to expand throughout the county and across the state in the future.