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Health Bucks

Core Elements

This section outlines the aspects of an intervention that are central to its theory and logic and that are thought to be responsible for the intervention’s effectiveness.  Core elements are critical features of the intervention’s intent and design and should be kept intact when the intervention is implemented or adapted. 

To learn about how these core elements are implemented by NYC Health Bucks, please see the Implementation section.

  1. Identify farmers’ markets to participate in the program based on need and interest. Work with local health departments and community-based organizations to identify farmers’ markets that are easily accessible for residents of low-income neighborhoods.
  2. Determine how incentives (coupons) will be distributed (at point of purchase, as an incentive for EBT, by community sites, etc.) The Health Bucks program has multiple points of distribution:  community-based organizations apply to distribute coupons to their target audiences and farmers’ market managers distribute them as incentives for EBT.
  3. Develop a tracking system to monitor how coupons are used. The actual Health Buck coupon plays a central role in monitoring how coupons are used.  If your program is just starting out, stamped serial numbers may be the simplest, least expensive way to go.  The NYC Health Bucks program has grown to the extent that serial numbers had to be replaced with bar codes for quicker and more detailed tracking.  As a part of tracking, farmers stamp the coupon with their unique Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program stamp before submitting a coupon for redemption. The Health Bucks tracking system can identify the farmer, the farmers’ market, and the community organization, if any, that was involved in a Health Buck consumer transaction. Additionally, tracking ensures markets and community groups are accountable. Each individual who distributes Health Bucks (a market manager or community organization employee) must sign out for each Health Buck or batch of Health Bucks. Every time a Health Buck changes hands someone is accountable.
  4. Identify or develop a system that tracks coupons collected by farmers including a mechanism to reimburse farmers for coupons redeemed. The Health Bucks program contracts with the Farmers Market Federation of New York to track, account for and cut checks to reimburse farmers.
  5. Promote the incentives to ensure high use and redemption rates.  Marketing can include everything from promotional flyers, posters and maps of participating markets to free nutrition workshops and cooking demonstrations at the markets.
  6. Develop training materials and program protocols; arrange opportunities for farmers’ market managers, participating farmers and community organizations to learn about the program and their respective roles.