UNION SQUARE — The city is expanding a program to encourage New Yorkers on foodstamps to eat healthier, offering reward coupons to those who shop at farmers markets, Mayor Bloomberg announced Monday.
Health Bucks, $2 coupons from the city's Department of Health, will be handed out as a bonus for every $5 of foodstamps spent at any of the 138 participating farmers markets around New York City, Bloomberg said.
The expansion of the Health Bucks program, which launched in 2005, was described as a new part of "the city-wide effort to fight the obesity epidemic," and "improve access to healthy eating."
"Today we're announcing a great way to make healthy eating even easier and less expensive for thousands of New Yorkers," Bloomberg said, "And in the process, fight the obesity epedemic in our city."
For every $5 a shopper spends with food stamps at a farmers' market, they will receive a one Health Buck to buy more fruits and vegetables, Bloomberg said.
Health bucks will also be distributed through several community-based organizations in low-income neighborhoods, though Bloomberg did not specify which organizations will be participating.
Speaker Christine Quinn also praised the program, and said that not only will this expansion will also "support local farmers by making sure that more New Yorkers can purchase their produce."
The initiative starts Monday July 2, and lasts until November 15. A complete list of farmers' markets are available at nyc.gov.