market bucks and harvest bucks

about market BUcks And HArvest bucks

LEAP has seen use of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal government's aid to the lowest wage earners) skyrocket at our markets in recent years. In early 2022, SNAP use was up 117 percent over the same time in 2021. Customers participating in Virginia Fresh Match (also federal funding, distributed through a statewide network, that doubles the value of SNAP on purchases of fruits and vegetables) bumped sales at LEAP's markets 93 percent over sales during the same time in 2021. This tells us that people who receive these incentives are hungry for healthy food. They are showing up to spend their SNAP dollars not at the chain grocery store but at LEAP's Mobile Market and farmers markets.

But not everyone who is hungry or struggles to access healthy food qualifies for SNAP. Sometimes small income fluctuations can affect qualification in these programs. Changes in federal rules can make previously depended-on benefits disappear overnight.

Market Bucks and Harvest Bucks can bridge the gap.

Research shows that when people who have a tough time accessing fruits and vegetables are able to afford them, whole communities become healthier.

What is a Market or Harvest Buck?

Market and Harvest Bucks are paper vouchers, available in increments of $5, $10, and $15. Community organizations that serve individuals and families who are low income and food insecure can purchase these vouchers and distribute them to their clients. Market Bucks can be spent on any SNAP-eligible food item. Harvest Bucks can only be spent on fruits and vegetables. Organizations can purchase just Market Bucks, just Harvest Bucks, or a combination. Offering Harvest Bucks alone incentivizes the purchase of healthy fruits and vegetables. Market and Harvest Bucks can be redeemed at any LEAP market — Grandin Village Farmers Market, West End Farmers Market, the LEAP Mobile Market, and at the LEAP Online Marketplace.

How do Market Bucks and Harvest Bucks work?

When clients arrive at a farmers market with Market or Harvest Bucks, they redeem them at the Market Manager’s table. The Market Manager provides clients with tokens that are spent like cash at vendor booths. (One color token for Market Bucks, another color for Harvest Bucks.) On the LEAP Mobile Market, clients choose their food and pay for it with the Market and Harvest Bucks. Market and Harvest Bucks are coded to a particular organization. LEAP invoices the distributing organizations monthly for Market and Harvest Bucks that are redeemed or “spent.”

Who can use Market Bucks and Harvest Bucks?

This program is designed to reach individuals and families who struggle to access or afford fresh fruits and vegetables. By working through organizations rooted in communities, LEAP can provide healthy produce to people who want and need it.

But the way the program is set up, any organization or even business can purchase Market and Harvest Bucks. For example, the City of Roanoke recently requested the LEAP Mobile Market set up at a mental health awareness event. City employees were each allowed to purchase $10 worth of food from the Mobile Market at no cost to them. LEAP invoiced the city for those purchases. Roanoke City’s purchase invested in local produce, supported homegrown small businesses, and provided healthy food for its employees.

Some other examples of organizations and nonprofits purchasing Marke and Harvest Bucks for their clients: CHIP of the Roanoke Valley, Casa Latina, Community Youth Program.

How can a foundation support the Market Bucks and Harvest Bucks program?

There are many community organizations that would like to offer Market Bucks and Harvest Bucks to their clients but cannot afford to or nonprofits who are participating but have more need than they have budget. Support from funding partners allows LEAP to purchase more locally grown fruits and vegetables to feed to individuals and families who need help accessing healthy food.

What if my organization cannot afford to purchase Market Bucks and Harvest Bucks?

LEAP fundraises, applies for grants, and seeks sponsorships in order to feed more healthy food to those who have the hardest time affording it. To fulfill this mission, LEAP has some funding available. Preference will be given to small, community-centered organizations and organizations able to apply for grants using LEAP monies as matching funds.


Contact Director of Programs, Kelly Key ( for further details.

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