In the News: New Yorkers Highlight Opportunities to Grow SNAP Incentives

Original Source: National Resources Defense Council – – Article Published by Sahana Rao, Margaret Brown & Sara Imperiale at

Link to full article: New Yorkers Highlight Opportunities to Grow SNAP Incentives | NRDC

According to – this blog is the first in a series sharing themes and lessons learned from the Natural Resources Defense Council’s research on SNAP and SNAP incentive programs in New York State over the past two years.

People of color and low-income people around the country are disproportionately exposed to environmental burdens. These inequalities are determinative of nearly all aspects of life, including whether families are food secure—meaning whether food is available in nearby, accessible stores, whether it is affordable, and whether it is culturally appropriate.

In New York, more than 10 percent of households are food insecure. Nationally, food insecurity is increasing, amidst inflation and waning Covid support programs. And Black and Latinx adults face food insecurity at disparately high rates – 29 and 32 percent, respectively, compared with 17 percent of white adults.

The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides money for food to individuals and households who meet certain eligibility criteria based on income. As of January 2023, SNAP serves over 42 million people in the United States. In New York, just over 2.8 million people rely on SNAP benefits—up 3.5 percent from last year. For the most recent fiscal year with data available, more than 54 percent of SNAP participants in New York were families with children, while almost 48 percent of New York SNAP users were in families with members who are seniors or disabled.

While SNAP is vital, this framework alone cannot satisfy the need for affordable, accessible, and healthy food for all. To truly fix the hunger crisis, we must address its root causes, including systemic racism, the racial wealth gap, and a food system that benefits corporations at the expense of low-income communities and communities of color.

Despite these systemic inequalities, there is still value in determining how best to strengthen and expand SNAP to ensure that all who are eligible can obtain benefits and use them to purchase healthy and culturally appropriate food. And it’s important to consider how these programs can be better used to build wealth in low-income communities.

Many states, including New York, have created SNAP incentive programs that increase the value of SNAP dollars when they are spent in certain ways, often at farmers markets. These programs offer states the opportunity to leverage federal funds to provide residents with additional money to purchase food, and to simultaneously support local farms and economies. The potential impact is significant, as each of the 2.8 million people in New York who use SNAP may be eligible for SNAP incentive programs, offering increased purchasing power for millions of low-income New Yorkers and harnessing a massive federal safety net for local economies.

Over the past two years, NRDC has gathered both experiential and quantitative data about where and how people use SNAP incentives in New York—and what factors might limit the success of these programs. This is the first in a series of blogs sharing NRDC’s findings, starting with themes from a series of interviews conducted with New Yorkers who have experience navigating SNAP and SNAP incentive programs, ranging from staff at community gardens and local pantries to college students and farmers market managers.

SNAP Incentive Programs in New York State

There are three primary SNAP incentive programs that operate in New York – Field and Fork’s Double Up Food Bucks, New York City’s Health Bucks, and New York State’s Fresh Connect Checks. These three programs differ in how they are funded, how they operate, and what geographies they serve within the state. The interview reflections touch on the overall experience of using SNAP incentives in New York rather than any one specific program.

While this blog focuses on the SNAP incentive program experience in New York, we heard repeatedly about threshold issues with the federal SNAP program and how it is administered in New York—including significant barriers to enrollment and ease of use in retail environments. These challenges spill over into and limit the efficacy of SNAP incentive programs in the state, but they are not the topic of this specific blog. We strongly support improvements to the SNAP program at the federal and state level – as called for by numerous community-based and national organizations.

SNAP Incentive Programs Help Promote Food Security

New Yorkers want to buy fresh, healthy foods

In interviews about SNAP and SNAP incentive programs, we heard repeatedly that community members who use these benefits are interested in eating fresh fruits and vegetables. As Valerie, a project coordinator for a university advocacy group, said, “There’s this misconception that poor people don’t want to eat vegetables and that’s not true. Why would people think that? Everyone wants to eat vegetables, like some people might have preferences on what kinds of vegetables or how they’re prepared….” Similarly, Finn Brigham at Callen-Lorde Center described the excitement people expressed at having access to fresh produce. “I think when I would tell patients that they could use their SNAP benefits, it was like their faces would light up and they’d run and grab their card because they just thought there was something that they couldn’t access or they couldn’t afford.” These programs are powerful tools in increasing the purchasing power of low-income shoppers, helping more families afford the fruits and vegetables they want to eat.

SNAP benefits alone are not meeting household need      

Federal SNAP benefits alone are simply not sufficient to meet users’ needs. Despite small but meaningful increases in SNAP benefits following the 2021 update of the Thrifty Food Plan, many SNAP recipients struggle to afford fresh fruits and vegetables. We repeatedly heard through interviews that cost is a barrier to purchasing produce, and this bears out in data at the national level as well. Abigail, who manages programming at a culinary community center, explained that “affordability remains a central barrier to purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. There are many times that the benefits are not enough to purchase produce for the whole month or purchase for a household of 2, 3, 4 people.” A farmers market manager in the Bronx put it clearly, stating “I really think people don’t get enough SNAP benefits. And I see when people can buy more vegetables, they buy more vegetables…If [they] don’t have the money to eat well, they aren’t going to eat well.”

One market manager shared insight from the retailer perspective, illustrating how consistently insufficient benefits limit families’ abilities to purchase food. As she described it, “EBT cards are loaded at the beginning of the month, so a significant amount of people come to the market at the beginning of the month, but by the end of the month there is much lower foot traffic.”

With SNAP users demonstrating a strong interest in purchasing fruits and vegetables, and real limitations around affordability of these products, SNAP incentives offer a way for low-income families to purchase more fresh produce. At the same time, SNAP incentive programs also hold enormous potential for local farmers and economies.

New York’s SNAP Incentive Programs Are Not Meeting Their Full Potential

Many potential program beneficiaries are unaware of SNAP incentive programs

The interviews highlighted that many New Yorkers are not aware of SNAP incentive programs, both at an organizational and individual level. Despite working in food and food related organizations in low-income communities, a number of the people we spoke with were simply not familiar with any of the SNAP incentive programs operating in New York. Others were aware of one or more SNAP incentive programs but felt that many of their community members were not familiar with the programs and that their organizations lacked the resources to meaningfully spread the word about SNAP incentives. Several people suggested that more outreach – in accessible and multilingual formats—to low-income communities and community-based organizations about these powerful programs could go a long way in increasing their use.

SNAP incentive programs can be cumbersome to use and to administer

Individuals who are well-versed in New York’s SNAP incentive programs shared that the way the programs are currently administered presents several challenges for consumers and retailers alike.

First, the relative complexity of the program details (e.g., how many incentives you get per SNAP dollar spent, what products the incentives can be used to purchase, etc.) can make it hard for customers to understand the programs and for retailers to administer them. Elizabeth Winn, the Food Access Coordinator for Kingston Farmers Market, explained, “A big challenge that we face, [is] just not having enough people trained to run the [SNAP and SNAP incentive] services that we provide,” adding that it’s a matter of “really understanding what they’re utilizing and then…really just not having enough hands to feel like it can run smoothly.” Clearly explaining how SNAP incentive programs work to customers isn’t easy, especially when people are rushing to do their shopping or if there is a language barrier. This problem is exacerbated if markets shift between two different incentive programs, either from year to year or over the course of a season, or offer two similar but slightly different incentives (e.g., offering a farmers market nutrition program coupon that is not directly tied to SNAP benefits).

Second, programs relying on physical vouchers like paper coupons or tokens can be difficult to manage. At a farm market in the South Bronx, the market manager found SNAP incentive coupons quite cumbersome, both for the market and the customer. Paper coupons can require complicated record keeping for the market, creating unnecessary administrative hurdles during busy market times, especially when juggling multiple incentive programs. Additionally, customers do not always use their SNAP incentives the same day they accrue, making it more likely that families will misplace the physical vouchers or forget to bring them to the market on their next visit.

Several people interviewed who are familiar with the programs suggested that having SNAP incentives loaded back onto beneficiaries’ Electronic Benefit Transfer cards would simplify things for customers and retailers.  This meaningful improvement has been made successfully in other states.

When designed in partnership with the communities that rely on these programs, SNAP incentives play an essential role in addressing challenges around fresh, healthy food affordability and access, provide much needed markets for local farmers, and drive local economic development. The next blog in this series will examine disparities in geographic access to SNAP incentives across New York State.

This article was written and posted by: New Yorkers Highlight Opportunities to Grow SNAP Incentives | NRDC

2023 Double Up Food Bucks NY Farmers/Mobile Market Applications Are Open

Our 2023 Double Up Food Bucks farmers market applications are live!

Field & Fork Network is seeking applications for the 2023 Double Up Food Bucks NY Season. New York State farmers markets, mobile markets, and farm stands that accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) benefits are eligible to apply.

Markets that participated in the program last year, as well as new markets or mobile markets interested in participating this year, must complete an application by 4/1/23.  The application can be found at

About Double Up Food Bucks

Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) is a national model for healthy food incentive programs that provides individuals and families who use SNAP benefits with a dollar-for-dollar match that encourages the purchase of healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Since piloting DUFB NY at seven Western New York farmers markets in 2014, Field & Fork Network has expanded the DUFB NY program into over 220 locations across 29 counties and has served over 100,000 SNAP customers. “The Double Up program is a win-win-win,” said Lisa French, co- founder and executive director of Field & Fork Network. “Low-income families bring home more healthy food, local farmers sell more produce, and more food dollars stay in the local economy.”

Here’s how DUFB NY works:

  • $1 for $1 match on SNAP eligible purchases, up to $20 per day, to purchase fresh local fruits & vegetables.
  • SNAP users can sign up for the program at the market’s SNAP tent. When they receive their SNAP tokens they are matched with Double Up Tokens. Turning $20 into $40 to spend at your vendors booths.
  • Program is offered from July through October.

Benefits of Participating in Double Up Food Bucks

  • Double Up Food Bucks is a federally funded program, that is free to participate in
  • Attract new SNAP customers
  • Monthly re-imbursement checks
  • Our team provides training and tools to operate the program, as well as marketing support
  • Brings more money to produce vendors, more money to farmers and makes produce more accessible for our community members – everyone wins!

Businesses in the local farming and agriculture sector have seen an influx in customers because of Double Up Food Bucks. The ability for customers to stretch their food dollars with the incentive has driven new customers to Double Up sites and created opportunities for market partners to grow their business. “Creekside Market had been a seasonal market since inception, now with the addition of DUFB we are able to operate a year- round grocery store/farm market,” said Alan Butzer, owner of Creekside Market. “The additional sales from DUFB help justify our decision to operate year-round and create jobs.”

Eligibility Requirements

  • Farmers/mobile markets located in New York State
  • Accept SNAP benefits
  • Sell NYS grown produce
  • Farmers markets must have existing SNAP token system in operation
  • Complete applicable monthly or weekly reporting

How to Apply

Interested sites can find the application and additional information about Double Up Food Bucks at

Applications will be accepted between February 15th, 2023 and April 1st, 2023 at 5:00 p.m.

Double Up Food Bucks NY Supporters Are Calling on State Leaders to Increase Funding for New York Families, Farmers, and the Local Economy

A $4M appropriation will allow the program to serve 200,000 low-income families, invest in NY farmers, and the ability to secure millions of dollars in Federal funds through the USDA

BUFFALO, NY — State Senators Michelle Hinchey (D-Kingston) and George Borrello (R-Sunset Bay), Assemblyman Demond Meeks (D-Rochester), Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (R-Niagara Falls), Assemblymember Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton), along with Field & Fork Network, the NYS Farm Bureau, the American Heart Association and other supporting organizations, are calling on the Legislature to support Double Up Food Bucks NY (Double Up), by allocating a $4 million appropriation in the 2023-24 Budget.

Double Up is a statewide nutrition incentive program that partners with local farmers markets, mobile markets, farm stands, corner stores and New York based grocery stores to increase the purchasing power of low-income families to buy fresh local produce.

For the second year in row, the program has received bi-partisan support in both the Senate and Assembly. This is because the benefits cross party lines; supporting the Double Up Food Bucks program means lawmakers are supporting local farmers and small businesses, providing increased access to nutritious options for low-income families, reducing the cost of government health care spending, and growing the economy in communities across the state.

Win for Families

As inflation and food costs continue to rise causing families to struggle to put healthy food on the table, Double Up makes healthy food choices within reach. Double Up is a proven, innovative model that simultaneously delivers health and economic opportunity. The program has helped over 100,000+ SNAP shoppers stretch their food budgets and access nutritious options, generating more than $8.3 million in healthy food sales. Double Up addresses major food-insecurity challenges, like access and affordability, by partnering with stores and markets in areas of high need, to give people the power to choose their own foods.

Since the program launched in 2014, demand has increased year over year; participation grew 107% in the last year alone. The State’s $4 million dollar investment will mean the program can serve an additional 200,000 SNAP shoppers and greatly expand participating locations. The funding also allows the program to scale services and distribute the dollars more equitably through partnerships with large grocery stores and integration with SNAP online grocery providers.

“At the end of this month, 2.8 million NY SNAP households will experience a change to their benefit amounts. That’s because the temporary pandemic-related boost to SNAP benefits, known as emergency allotments (EA), are coming to an end. These emergency allotments have been in place since April 2020 and families have come to rely on them to put food on the table each month. When you couple that with the current economic conditions, many low-income families will struggle to fill that gap. Double Up can be a part of the solution and help fill the gap with healthy locally grown produce. Doubling the current $2 million funding to $4 million means the program can provide a critical resource for these families,” said Lisa French, Co-Founder and Executive Director Field & Fork Network.

Win for New York Farmers

New York farmers, particularly small family run farms, struggle to make ends meet. In 2022, Double Up created new economic opportunities for more than 400 farmers. A state investment would allow the program to invest a projected $700,000 directly into these farms. In addition, participating Double Up retail locations are required to purchase at least 20% of their produce from New York farmers to maintain their eligibility. This additional revenue means farmers can expand their production, buy new equipment, hire new employees—in turn generating growth in the local economy.

“New York Farm Bureau believes in expanding access to locally produced food for all New Yorkers. The Double Up Food Bucks program provides greater value for people in need of assistance while expanding market opportunities for farmers. We thank the governor and the bill’s sponsors for championing the program and look forward to its inclusion once again in the final state budget,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.

Win for Local Economies

According to a study conducted by Colorado State University, The Economic Contributions of Healthy Food Incentives, healthy food incentive programs lead to powerful returns on investment. The study showed that for every dollar spent in New York State with Double Up, $2.20 goes back into stimulating the local economy. In 2022, Double Up purchases contributed $1.9 million to the NYS economy. A $4 million investment in the program by the state would generate $7M for local economies.

Additionally, Field & Fork Network will use the state investment to leverage federal funds through the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program. Field & Fork Network has successfully leveraged $4.2 million in private funding, bringing in a total of $8.4 million to NYS. For every dollar the state invests in Double Up, Field & Fork Network plans to leverage with an equal $1 match through the USDA’s GusNIP grant; doubling the impact and dollars available for New Yorkers.

As we work together to solve issues as difficult as hunger and the impacts of diet-related disease, the proven solution of Double Up Food Bucks is already at the table. With adequate funding and a significant boost in the federal share of costs that’s possible in the 2023 farm bill, the program is ready to scale its positive impacts for New York farmers, grocers, families experiencing poverty, and communities across the state.

Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “Fighting food insecurity while keeping food dollars local should always go hand in hand, and Double Up Food Bucks is an innovative program that helps communities across our state do just that. I’m proud to champion increased funding for this essential initiative, which ensures SNAP-eligible families can afford the fresh fruits and vegetables at their local grocery store while also delivering direct support to small businesses and New York farmers. Building a food system that works for all New Yorkers must be a fundamental priority, and we’ll be fighting to deliver this increase to help the Double Up program grow to support more families and economies in need.”

Senator George Borrello, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “Double Up Food Bucks is an important bi-partisan initiative that continues to have my strongest support. By providing SNAP-eligible New Yorkers with greater access to fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, this program not only addresses food insecurity, it promotes good health, supports our family farms and keeps food dollars in the community. I look forward to working with the Field & Fork Network and my colleagues in the Legislature to renew our commitment to this innovative nutritional program and those it serves,”

Assemblyman Demond Meeks said, “Accessibility to local and organic foods are fundamental for the most vulnerable members of our community. With rising prices nationwide, families are struggling to acquire essentials. We must take the necessary steps to prevent food insecurity by advocating for reasonable, healthy options for our families. Field & Fork Network continues to play a vital role for residents throughout Upstate New York that don’t have access to healthy food choices. Continued funding will provide direct support to small businesses, farmers, and our local economy. I stand with my colleagues in advocating for Field & Fork Network for their ongoing commitment to the health and welfare of the people of New York State.”

Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, “Field and Fork Network has not only made our communities healthier by giving better access to more fruits and vegetables, but they have also created a new stream of revenue for our local farmers. With the Double Up Program every dollar spent gives more food to the customer and more revenue to the local farmer, keeping more money in our local economy. The Field and Fork Network is the bridge that connects the two, and I am very proud to support this organization.”

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee said, “Double Up Food Bucks stretches food dollars for SNAP-eligible families, while connecting them to healthy and nutritious produce. At the same time, the program benefits NY farmers and small businesses by providing them with additional revenue.  I fully support increased funding for this important program which currently receives a 1:1 match from the federal government.  Given all of the positive benefits, we should definitely take further advantage of this opportunity.”

Tashara M. Leak, PhD, RD Assistant Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University College of Human Ecology said, “The Cornell University Action Research Collaborative is honored to lead evaluation efforts to measure the impact of the Double Up Program on more than 100,000 New Yorkers that experience food insecurity. This partnership is a prime example of Cornell’s land-grant mission to use research to better the lives of New York residents. New York state’s continued investment in the initiative is critical to increasing the accessibility of healthy, nutritious produce to low-income families.”

Amy Grover, Sports Medicine and Employee Wellness Coordinator at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, and board member of the American Heart Association in Syracuse said, “Double Up Food Bucks has proven to be the win-win-win we always knew it would be, helping farmers, business owners and SNAP clients. Good health deserves full funding, and when people can buy even more produce than they had planned, it’s easier to improve health. We will continue to advocate for doubling up the funding for this important program, from the $2 million currently in the budget, to $4 million.”

The Action Research Collaborative at Cornell partners with Field & Fork Network to expand ‘Double Up’ nutrition incentive program across New York State

Cornell’s Action Research Collaborative (ARC) is partnering with Field & Fork Network to evaluate the impact of the Double Up Food Bucks NY program on families that experience food insecurity in New York.

The Double Up Food Bucks NY program, launched in 2014, is the only statewide nutrition incentive program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match on each purchase of fresh produce for New York Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients. The program also creates new economic opportunities for small and mid-sized New York farmers, since retailers offering Double Up Food Bucks are required to provide a certain percentage of locally sourced produce.

Generating sustainable solutions to food insecurity is one of ARC’s priorities, according to Tashara M. Leak, assistant professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences (College of Human Ecology) and co-director of ARC. Leak’s research and ARC’s partnership with Field & Fork Network will also continue its mission of supporting action research projects that bring together researchers, community members and policymakers.

“Double Up is a proven intervention to addressing food insecurity and alleviating the burden of purchasing high-cost produce on more than 40,000 families in upstate New York. Also, more than ever, underserved New Yorkers need access to healthy food options to improve nutrition and health.” says Leak, who is co-principal investigator on the project.

At first, Field & Fork Network launched Double Up Food Bucks NY at just seven farmers markets across the western New York region. Now, with the help of several partners and community organizations, Field & Fork Network has expanded Double Up Food Bucks NY to serve 29 counties through farmer’s markets and stands, co-ops, and even retail locations. With a total of $8.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grant and private funding, Double Up Food Bucks NY has reached over 100,000 SNAP shoppers and their families and supplied more than $2.1 million to underserved NY families.

“At our core we’ve always wanted to look for new innovative ideas on how to improve the food system,” says Lisa French, co-founder and executive director of Field & Fork Network. “When we were introduced to Double Up Food Bucks in 2013, we knew this was a program worth bringing to our community. Rarely do you encounter a program that has benefits for so many: low-income consumers can afford more healthy nutritious foods, local farmers see more money in their pockets, and more federal food assistance dollars go back into the local economy. With ARC, we have the opportunity to better understand our program’s impact across the state.”

Field & Fork Network credits its many partners, such as the American Heart Association (AHA), for the program’s success. In 2020, the need for nutrition programs that decrease barriers to affordability and accessibility became even more apparent. COVID-19 greatly exacerbated issues of food insecurity—particularly for the state’s already vulnerable residents—due to rising levels of unemployment, school closures and general food and supply shortages. The program demand nearly doubled in 2020 and has seen steady growth since.

Now, the program has potential to reach 27 percent of new SNAP customers outside of New York City by 2026. To achieve this, Field & Fork Network and ARC’s Evaluation Unit are exploring innovative ways to increase program participation and leverage additional federal funding. It is estimated that Double Up Food Bucks NY will be able to quadruple the number of people served in New York state with continued federal support.

The Action Research Collaborative’s Evaluation Unit specializes in collecting data to evaluate the impact of initiatives. The Evaluation Unit, led by ARC’s co-directors, and supported by two postdoctoral fellows, Zeynab Jouzi and Ibukun Owoputi, and a research coordinator, will conduct interviews with Double Up NY stakeholders to better understand the landscape for SNAP recipients and farmers in the state to measure the success of Double Up’s implementation and identify new opportunities for growth.

“Growing the Double Up program to serve more New Yorkers requires a more holistic understanding of the actors in the food system—SNAP recipients, farmers, grocers—and how they are all affected by different elements of the system,” says Neil Lewis, Jr., assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), and ARC co-director. “The Action Research Collaborative’s partnership with Field & Fork Network will help to grow our collective knowledge about the factors that affect food insecurity in New York State, and grow that knowledge in ways that can be translated into action to improve food security in our state. We hope our collaboration will decrease the barriers to purchasing fresh, local produce through innovative methods that especially ease the burden for low-income families.”

Join Us for Advocacy Day at the Capitol

We are excited to announce that for the first time Double Up Food Bucks New York is included in the NY State Executive Budget! The funding will help ensure the sustainability of the program.

We are asking our partners and supporters to join us and American Heart Association on February 14th for a Lobby Day at the Capital to advocate for Double Up Food Bucks and Healthy School Meals for All.

When: February 14 at 9:00 a.m.
Where: Capitol Building, Albany

The day at-a-glance:

  • 9:00 a.m. – Kick-Off
  • 10:00 a.m. – Press Conference
  • Post-Press Conference – head out to meet the legislators

Meals, talking points and materials will be included.

Want to join fellow advocates to secure healthy food for all and healthy school meals for students in New York? RSVP and join us at the Capitol!

Double Up Food Bucks Relaunches at Lexington Co-op Markets

It’s official we have relaunched Double Up Food Bucks New York at Lexington Co-op and Channel 7 News is helping to get the word out!  Check out their full coverage at

In partnership with Lexington Co-op, we relaunched our Double Up Food Bucks New York program in their stores to match the program benefits that are offered at other markets and farm markets around the city. The change to an earn and redeem model will allow SNAP shoppers who spend $1 on fresh produce to earn $1 in Double Up Food Bucks, up to $20 a day. This will help SNAP shoppers put more healthy, fresh produce on the table for them and their families and make it more uniform for SNAP shoppers who are using Double Up Food Bucks at other locations.

KeyBank in Partnership with the First Niagara Foundation and General Motors Provides Over $50,000 in Funding to Field & Fork Network

KeyBank in Partnership with the First Niagara Foundation and General Motors Provides Over $50,000 in Funding to Field & Fork Network

Investment funds ‘Food Pathways’, a professional development program for Niagara Falls High School students

NOVEMBER 21, 2022

Niagara Falls High School students will have an opportunity to enhance their education and receive professional development thanks to an investment from two foundations focused on strengthening Niagara County. Food Pathways, a program developed by Field & Fork Network, received a $32,375 grant from First Niagara Foundation and a $25,000 grant from General Motors. The funding will prepare 20 students to take on important careers that help improve and sustain our local food system.

“This innovative collaboration is connecting young people to the community in a unique way by providing career development opportunities while enhancing access to a fresh, affordable and sustainable food system,” said Elizabeth Gurney, Executive Director of the KeyBank and First Niagara Foundations. “Our investment in their future will help strengthen our regional economy and  create plans and pathways to help students reach their full potential.” Food Pathways was developed and piloted last year to address gaps that exist between the workforce and food system  employers in Niagara County. A partnership with Niagara Falls High School quickly formed, and a collaboration with the Niagara Global Tourism Institute helped create a comprehensive curriculum to engage seniors in exploring new career paths and learning tangible professional skills from leading professionals to better prepare them for the futures.

“We are thankful for the continued support from GM, who also funded the pilot, and to First Niagara Foundation for stepping up to fill the gap, enabling us to continue this program,” said Tom Lowe, Project Director at Field & Fork Network. “This is a unique opportunity for many of these students, and one that has the power to transform their lives; I feel lucky I get to be a part of it.”

“For the second year NFHS students will benefit from this partnership, it’s a chance to learn in a practical setting about new career paths and life skills that will stay with them as they transition to college or a career,” said NFHS Superintendent Mark Laurie.

Food Pathways will launch in January 2023, offering 20 Niagara Falls High School seniors a $500 stipend to participate in the 14-week program that explores career paths in the food system. The curriculum combines in-class professional development activities such as personal branding, social intelligence, team building, with food system experiences both in the classroom and out in the field at local businesses within the food system.

Field & Fork Network is a NYS nonprofit organization that connects communities to innovative solutions that foster a sustainable food system. Whether we’re connecting farmers to new economic opportunities or connecting consumers to affordable fresh food, our work is designed to link communities together to make them stronger. To learn more about our work please visit our website and social media sites at: | Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

KeyBank’s roots trace back nearly 200 years to Albany, New York. Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, KeyCorp is one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $190.1 billion at September 30, 2022. Key provides deposit, lending, cash management, and investment services to individuals and businesses in 15 states under the name KeyBank National Association through a network of approximately 1,000 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs. Key also provides a broad range of sophisticated corporate and investment banking products, such as merger and acquisition advice, public and private debt and equity, syndications, and derivatives to middle market companies in selected industries throughout the United States under the KeyBanc Capital Markets trade name. For more information, visit KeyBank is Member FDIC.

Founded in 1998, the First Niagara Foundation will carry out the philanthropic legacy of First Niagara Bank, which was acquired by KeyBank in 2016. The Foundation, in partnership with KeyBank, supports not for profit organizations dedicated to empowering individuals and neighborhoods primarily in Western New York. For more information, visit

General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at

Now Hiring! AmeriCorps VISTA Local Food Action Plan Outreach Coordinator – Niagara Falls

This is an AmeriCorps VISTA position. Information about this program can be found here:  

Are you passionate about local food and improving food access for your friends and neighbors? Do you love farmers markets and creating safe, judgement free zones for folks to experience the joys of seasonal fruits and vegetables? Are you looking to get into a career in food systems or non-profits? 

If you said yes to any or all of those questions, then apply to become a Local Food Action Plan Outreach VISTA member! 

The Local Food Action Plan VISTA member will: 

  • Engage stakeholders to inform action items and priorities
  • Develop and implement advocacy agenda items
  • Assist with the development and implementation of projects and programs that positively impact the local food system
  • Create economic opportunities for farmers and local food producers

In 2018, Field & Fork Network staff led the development of the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan (NFLFAP) which was approved by the Niagara Falls City Council in December 2018 as the official food plan for the City of Niagara Falls. The Plan provides a framework of actions to be undertaken to improve the local food system and increase food access amongst Niagara Falls residents.  

Embedded within Field & Fork Network and supervised by the Project Director for the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan, the VISTA member will assist the Project Director and key partners in the planning, coordination, and execution of community outreach events and activities to gather information from key stakeholders to inform the work that is guided by the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan.  

About Field & Fork Network: 

Field & Fork Network is a New York State food and farming non-profit organization that connects communities to innovative solutions that foster a sustainable food system. Our work focuses on four important areas: agriculture economic development, food access, youth development and healthy neighborhoods. 

About AmeriCorps VISTA 

Since 1965, over 220,000 AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program have joined the fight against poverty by helping local organizations expand their capacity to make change. The VISTA program serves in each of the 50 U.S. states and in all U.S. territories. 

Through capacity building activities such as fundraising, grant writing, research, and volunteer recruitment, AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program serve in an office setting and gain experience and leadership skills. This opportunity prepares members for a life of service in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. 

Minimum Position Requirements: 

  • Be 18 years or older (no upper age limit) 
  • Hold one of the following citizenship or legal residency statuses: US citizen, US National, Lawful Permanent Resident (i.e. Green Card status), and persons legally residing within a state. Examples of persons legally residing within a state may include those holding the following classifications: refugee, asylee, temporary protected status throughout VISTA service, and holding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. 
  • Valid driver’s license and reliable vehicle required. 


  • A passion for increasing healthy food access for low-income community members.
  • Strong skills in communicating, building relationships, and working with community members from diverse backgrounds, including immigrants and refugees, people of color, and low-income communities.
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills.
  • Strong public speaking skills or willingness to speak to large audiences (e.g. 15 or more persons).
  • Strong analytical skills and ability to synthesize information from multiple sources into concise, easy to understand formats.
  • An understanding of the stakeholders and considerations involved in sustainable food systems policy and planning.  


  • Childcare assistance if eligible 
  • $6,345 education award upon successful completion of service for either future education expenses or for payment of student loans OR a cash award of $1,800 upon successful completion of service
  • Health coverage
  • Living allowance 
  • Non-competitive eligibility (federal jobs)
  • 10 sick days and 10 vacation days 
  • Relocation allowance (if applicable)
  • Student loan forbearance and full payment of any interest accumulated during service upon successful completion of service
  • Training
  • Professional Development Opportunities 
  • Phone stipend
  • Food assistance
  • Additional benefits to be determined 

To Apply: 

Please send a resume and a brief description of your interest in the position to 

Applicants should indicate “Local Food Action Plan VISTA” in the subject line of the email. 

Applications will be reviewed daily and the position will be filled based on AmeriCorps VISTA Member Orientation Dates. No phone calls please. 

Field & Fork Network Receives USDA Grant to Revitalize the Niagara Falls City Market

NOVEMBER 4, 2022

NIAGARA FALLS, NY – Field & Fork Network, a statewide food and farming nonprofit was awarded over $245,000 to revitalize the Niagara Falls City Market. Field & Fork Network took over farmers market management this season with the goal of creating an accessible and equitable market; where food, culture and community can be celebrated. 

The USDA grant will provide the necessary funding to strengthen operations, make capital improvements, recruit new vendors, support community events, and engage the community. The grant is a part of the USDA’s Farmers Market Promotion Program, which awarded over $13 million to 55 organizations across the country, Field & Fork Network was one of only five in New York that was selected.   

“Access to fresh, nutritious, locally-grown food shouldn’t be a luxury. The Niagara Falls City Market has been a fixture in the community for over 100 years and community groups are working diligently to reimagine the marketspace so it can improve the local food system and meet the needs of Western New Yorkers,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will allow Field & Fork Network to engage the Niagara Falls community, increase traffic at the market, enhance opportunities for new local vendors, and improve access to affordable and healthy food. This is another investment that will contribute to a healthier and stronger future for the Western New York community.”  

The Niagara Falls City Market has been in existence since the horse-and-buggy days of the late 1800s. What once was a vibrant market full of diverse vendors has struggled in recent years. In 2018, residents, and other important partners developed the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan to improve the local food system; the number one priority of the Plan was revitalizing the City Market.  

“After years of ineffective efforts to improve the City Market, our Administration took the necessary steps to bring in Field & Fork Network to enhance the farmer and vendor potential at the market and coupled with new facility management by Militello Property Group, we believe the future is bright for our market. Securing this grant will provide additional resources that Field & Fork Network can use to attract and develop more vendors and improve promotion of the market. We appreciate the efforts of the Field & Fork Network and look forward to our ongoing partnership.”   

Since taking over the market this year, Field & Fork Network has laid the groundwork to improve community access to local fresh produce by implementing programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) and Double Up Food Bucks, a nutrition incentive program that offers low-income individuals’ money to purchase local fresh produce. Additionally, they have strengthened market opportunities for the vendors through special events and marketing support.  

“It has been a long road but we are excited to be at the point we are now with the farmers market; building back this important community asset as a place to buy fresh and affordable produce and other locally-produced products,” said Tom Lowe, Project Director for the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan who is also responsible for managing the Niagara Falls City Market. “We look forward to the markets continued growth to better support the community it serves and the farmers and vendors who have devoted years of their business to this farmers market.” 

“The Niagara Falls City Market is a cornerstone of the community and an important source of fresh, affordable, and local produce,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I congratulate the Field & Fork Network on receiving this well-deserved award and look forward to seeing the new and improved market in operation.”    

Field & Fork Network intends to work with current vendors, City Officials, residents and other stakeholders to develop a vision for the market that is part of the City’s overall development for the Pine Avenue area. Anyone interested in learning more about this work or to engage in the larger work of the Niagara Falls Local Food Action Plan can learn more by visiting[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Buffalo Bill’s ‘Huddle for Hunger’ Initiative Supports Field & Fork Network

Bills Huddle for Hunger Supports Food Access

Field & Fork Network is thrilled to be working with the Buffalo Bills Foundation as a beneficiary of their 50/50 Raffle! The Huddle for Hunger initiative is a campaign to help those in our community who struggle with food insecurity.

This is a rare opportunity for us to work alongside the Buffalo Bills to raise more money for Double Up Food Bucks and other food access programs. Not only are you supporting a good cause but you can win half of the jackpot!

The Buffalo Bills Foundation 50/50 raffle is open for online sales, and each ticket purchased will help increase the jackpot until it closes during the Huddle for Hunger game on Sunday, October 30th. Half of the jackpot will go to the winner, while the other half will be dispersed throughout 18 hunger fighting organizations

Please visit our Fanthem Page to get your tickets. We are so appreciate of your support!

Enter to Win