New FreshConnect Program to Boost Access to Local Farm Food

J.M. Lesinski
A shot of pumpkins at a local farm stand in Boston, New York.Photo byPhoto by J.M. Lesinski

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently celebrated the launch of the new digital FreshConnect initiative, a food program aimed at boosting the purchasing of local farm products and helping aid families facing food insecurity.

“The Digital FreshConnect pilot program is an efficient way to reach more consumers and make it easier to use SNAP benefits to buy fresh, local food from our farmers,” Hochul stated of the program. “What’s even better is that this new digital option also makes it easier and more convenient for our farmers to participate in the program. Building on the improvements we just made to the FreshConnect program by increasing the amount of food that eligible New Yorkers could purchase with their SNAP dollars, this pilot program will encourage more SNAP participants to take advantage of the program and to visit our farmers’ markets to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and so many more New York farm products.”

The FreshConnect pilot program officially launched on Saturday, October 28 at the Broome County Regional Farmers’ Market, providing eligible New York residents a more universal digital option for buying with SNAP benefits.

“This is an exciting step for the FreshConnect program and its participants, both on the consumer and farmer side,” remarked New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball of the program. “By providing the option for our families to digitally purchase local products, we hope we’re making it easier for them to use their benefits at the farmers’ market and encourage additional purchasing of local farm products—fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy. Buying fresh, healthy options will not only boost nutrition for our consumers but it will also provide an economic boost to our farmers, who will also find the program easier to navigate with this digital component. The pilot program is a win-win and we look forward to its success.”

Utilizing an app on the farmer’s end to manage the redemption process ultimately simplifies and modernizes the experience, saving everyone involved more time, while also preventing further environmental waste by eliminating paper coupons.

"Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County is honored to partner with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, ensuring that consumers have consistent access to fresh, locally grown products from the Broome County Regional Farmers Market,” Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County Executive Director Beth Roberts noted of the program. “The FreshConnect Fresh2You pilot program serves as yet another demonstration of commitment to bolstering the agricultural community while simultaneously supporting vulnerable populations in New York State. These ongoing investments continue to help local communities address food insecurity while supporting our local farms."

The pilot program will continue to be available to SNAP customers at the Broome County Regional Farmers Market through the remainder of 2023, with expansion to other farmers’ markets possible soon.

“By modernizing the coupon system, this new FreshConnect program is a win all the way around, making it more convenient for consumers to use their SNAP benefits to purchase farm products, and making it easier for farmers to participate,” commented New York State Assemblymember Donna Lupardo of the program. “I am especially proud that this program will be launching at the Broome County Regional Farmers' Market. I'd like to thank Governor Hochul for continuing to support the FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative, which has dramatically increased access to locally grown, nutritious food for all New Yorkers over the years.”

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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