News Release: Fresh Access poster wins national Farmers Market Coalition poster contest

Contest part of USDA’s National Farmers Market Week, Aug. 3-9

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (August 3) – The Farmers Market Coalition announced that Pittsburgh’s Just Harvest won first place in FMC’s first-ever nationwide farmers market poster contest with over 160 entries. Just Harvest’s poster for Fresh Access won Best EBT and/or Incentive program poster, a category sponsored by Wholesome Wave.

Fresh Access: Use your access, credit or debit card to enjoy Pittsburgh's freshest produce at these farmers marketsFresh Access enables the use of food stamp/electronic benefits transfer (EBT), credit, and debit cards with participating vendors at these markets. At the Just Harvest tent, shoppers swipe their card and receive tokens, which can be used as cash to purchase food.

“Nutrition incentive programs at farmers markets are becoming integral pieces of successful EBT programs, ensuring that people of all income levels have access to fresh, local, delicious food, ” the Farmers Market Coalition stated in their announcement of the four contest winners,

Since launching at two Citiparks farmers markets in May of 2013, Just Harvest’s Fresh Access program is now at seven Citiparks farmers markets, as well as at the Market Square Farmers Market operated by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the Borough of Swissvale’s farmers market. It will also be available later this summer through an operating agreement with the Bloomfield Development Corporation and Lawrenceville United at their respective farmers markets.

Use of the program is also growing rapidly. Last market season, total sales topped $42,000, benefiting local farmers and communities. As of June 30, the dollar value of Fresh Access’s total sales so far this market season (May-November) had quadrupled since the same time last year, reaching $24,800 by mid-July. The number of food stamp transactions are now almost triple what they were a year prior, and the number of credit/debit transactions are up five-fold.

Overwhelmingly, shoppers are spending their money on fresh, local produce. Both EBT and credit/debit shoppers spend close to 70% of their tokens with produce vendors. Vendors also offer baked goods, meat and dairy products.

“We are thrilled by the success of this program, but not surprised. The nearly one in four Pittsburghers who live in poverty are literally hungry for fresh food options. Half of all Pittsburgh residents live in neighborhoods that lack access to nutritious food. This program helps address that problem while putting money in the pockets of local farmers and contributing to healthy, vibrant communities. It’s a win-win-win,” said Emily Schmidlapp, Just Harvest’s Fresh Access coordinator.

“We are also enormously gratified by the national recognition of our efforts – that we are seen as the best in the country in creatively promoting this type of program.”

The designer of the poster was Doug Dean, Art Director of Wall-to-Wall.

The award comes with a $1,000 prize which, per contest rules, the Farmers Market Coalition gave to the farmers market manager Pittsburgh Citiparks. Citiparks instead requested it be given to Just Harvest in recognition of their work on Fresh Access. The three other winning entries came from Hudson Farmers Market in Ohio, Webster Groves Farmers Market in Missouri, and Forest Grove Farmers Market in Oregon.

Anyone interested in posting one of the award-winning posters somewhere to help promote Fresh Access should contact Katie Mahoney at Just Harvest via (412) 431-8960 x110 or katiem@justharvest.org.

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