Published on June 03, 2019

The Friends of Reading Hospital Partnering with Berks Farm Bucks Program

The Friends of Reading Hospital is returning for the 5th year of support to expand the Berks Farm Bucks Program, with a donation of $30,000. This initiative helps individuals and families using Food and Nutrition Service plans have greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables, while encouraging them to make healthy choices.

"For some families it can be difficult to pay for fresh produce, which makes this program vital to the health of the community," said Mary Ellen Batman, President, The Friends of Reading Hospital. "Berks Farm Bucks empowers participants to access foods that support good nutrition - and it makes those choices more affordable while supporting the local agricultural industry."

A 2016 community health needs assessment found that obesity and a poor diet are two major health concerns affecting Berks County residents. As the prevalence of diabetes, obesity, and other diet-related illnesses rise, particularly concentrated in low-income urban and rural communities, improving the food environment can have a long-lasting impact on community health. The strategic collaboration with The Friends of Reading Hospital, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance through the Penn Street Market, and The Food Trust of Philadelphia, the Berks Farm Bucks Program is designed to both empower shoppers and to connect the fresh food network in the City of Reading.

Participants can earn bucks by:

  • Participating in a Food Trust nutrition and cooking demo to receive two (2), $2 Berks Farm Bucks (total of $4) to be spent on eligible items.
  • Shopping with their FMNP checks (WIC + S-FMNP) for every $5 spent, receive two (2), $2 Berks Farm Bucks (total of $4) to be spent on eligible items.
  • Shop using your ACCESS card at participating vendors - for every $5 spent using SNAP, a person will receive one, $2 Berks Farm Buck to be spent on eligible items

"Eighty-five percent of shoppers at the Penn Street Market use food incentives," says Aaron Gantz, Executive Director of Downtown Revitalization, Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. "Berks Farm Bucks help many community members fill their fridge with fresh produce, and support from The Friends of Reading Hospital, the title presenting sponsor of the Penn Street Market, is what makes this program possible."

In addition to the Penn Street Market, there are numerous locations throughout the City of Reading that utilize Berks Farm Bucks - including several city schools. Berks Farm Bucks also offers a program for school-age children, so they can receive healthy fruits and vegetables.

Visit PennStMarket.org/Berks-Farm-Bucks for more information and redemption locations throughout the City of Reading.