FAQs | Wholesome Wave


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How Can We Help?

Doubling SNAP

What foods can people buy through this program?

SNAP (Food Stamps) can only be spent on food, or on plants or seeds that grow food for your household to eat. (It cannot be used to purchase hot foods, fast food, household supplies, alcohol or tobacco, or anything else.) We double the value of SNAP with matching funds that can only be spent on fruits and vegetables. So if someone spends $10 in SNAP (perhaps on pasta or eggs or peanut butter), we provide $10 in coupons that can only be spent on produce.

What was the first state you were in?

Wholesome Wave’s SNAP Doubling Program launched in 2008 in five states: at the City Heights Farmers Market in San Diego in partnership with the International Rescue Committee; in nine markets in the greater Boston area with The Food Project; 55 markets in New York with the New York Federation of Farmers Markets; and the Holyoke Farmers Market in Massachusetts with the non-profit Nuestras Raices. These early programs used the new battery-charged mobile EBT machines at a central market booth. SNAP recipients swiped their cards at the market booth and were given tokens for double what they paid to spend anywhere at the market. At the end of the day, farmers turned in their tokens and received checks from the market manager for the value of the purchases.  

Get Involved

Can I apply for funding from Wholesome Wave?

If you are a member of our national network, you are eligible to apply for our annual granting program, which supports innovative programs in the field that focus on making produce more affordable. The application process generally happens in October and November, and will be advertised through our Network Newsletter. We’ve given away over $300,000 in the last 2 years through this program. 

I heard about your program through the news. Is your program available near me?

We work with partners  across the country. Using our interactive map, you can  find their website, and see if they are running a program near you. 

Is my gift tax-deductible?

Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)3 organization and all charitable gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Our EIN is 26-0352899. For a copy of our 501(c)3 letter of determination contact us at info@wholesomewave.org

What if there’s not a participating program in my area?

If you’d like start a SNAP doubling program in your community, you can work with your local farmers market or supermarket, to see if they are interested in getting a program going. They can access resources on setting up a program and a peer learning community through our free national network. 

If you’re interested in starting a produce prescription program, you can look to local nonprofits or clinics to champion the effort. This program is newer to the field, but with adequate funding and partnerships, you could be one among a few organizations leading the charge. It’s our goal to grow the reach of this program in the coming years. 

What percentage of my donation goes directly to programming?

Wholesome Wave constantly strives to improve the efficiency of our operations. You can find updated financial reports in our most recent Annual Report

Our Work at a Glance

How has the government responded to this work?

The United States Department of Agriculture has embraced nutrition incentives, investing $100 million to support these programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. Former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Gus Schumacher became our founding board chair. At our summit in 2016, Kevin Concannon, former Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, USDA, referenced the new Dietary Guidelines’ call for Americans to eat more fresh produce, asking “what better way than through farmers markets?”

How much food do Americans redeem annually through these programs?

Each year through our programs, SNAP (food stamp) shoppers spend over $3 million.

What do people say about your programs?

Alin Son, a shopper at the Spotsylvania Farmers Market in Virginia said: "As a SNAP recipient, I truly value the incentive program as it allows me to buy fresh, healthy foods with my SNAP card, and get extra funds for fruits and vegetables. I care for my elderly father and this program helps my family have access to healthy foods despite our financial limitations." 

What is the impact of a $100 gift to Wholesome Wave?

$100 would support a family of four with produce for a month. 

Practically Perfect

How much does Practically Perfect Produce cost?

Supermarkets sell Practically Perfect Produce at a 30% discount. This means extra income for local farmers and a savings boon to working families. 

I can afford regular produce. How does this issue affect me?

Each year, we throw away 20 billion pounds of produce. This has a real environmental toll, as imperfect produce takes just as much energy and water to grow, and then generates major greenhouse gasses while decomposing. We’re working to change this! 

What is Practically Perfect Produce?

Practically Perfect Produce is perfectly delicious, but it’s often overlooked because it’s just a little different. People don’t always look like supermodels and the same is true for fruits and veggies. Picture tomatoes, peaches or cucumbers that are slightly larger, smaller, bumpier or wear an extra stripe of color. They’re not overripe, bruised or otherwise second-rate. Instead, these are natural variations that local farmers often end up throwing away. But our brand is working to change that. Because when local supermarkets sell it – at a discount – that means extra money for hardworking farmers, and more affordable fruits and vegetables for families who need it. Which we think is absolutely beautiful. 

Where is Practically Perfect Produce sold?

The pilot program for Practically Perfect Produce launched in July 2017 in the mountains of southwest Virginia, in partnership with Appalachian Sustainable Development. We’re looking to expand the brand from coast to coast.

Produce Prescriptions

Does the produce prescription program just serve individual patients? What about the rest of their families?

We provide produce prescriptions for the patient’s whole household. That’s because change happens on a family level. Numerous studies indicate greater success when a patient needing to make a lifestyle change is not treated in isolation. Lasting change happens when the entire family participates.

How do I start my own produce prescription program?

Wholesome Wave offers resources through our national network that support program establishment. The toolkits and webinars walk you through how to form relationships with stakeholders in your communities, raise money, and begin program implementation. If you require additional support from Wholesome ave, you can hire us to help build and execute your program. Our fee is small. The majority of funding raised will go towards program operations. 

There’s not a produce-prescription program near me. What’s involved in launching a new location?

Hospitals or clinics can partner with an area grocery store or farmers market to launch and run the program. It takes teamwork, but we can show you how to do it. Members of Wholesome Wave's Network receive access to our Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program toolkit on establishing and growing produce prescription programs - it walks you through every step, including fundraising strategies, and has been downloaded thousands of times. Or reach out to our team of on-staff experts, available to consult for projects large and small.

Where does the funding for produce prescriptions come from?

Funding for produce prescriptions generally comes from foundations and nonprofit hospitals’ community benefit funds. Funding is the most significant obstacle to launching a program. We offer a toolkit specifically designed to walk you through starting  and sustaining your own program, including fundraising strategy. 

Who qualifies for produce prescriptions?

Patients at participating clinics or hospitals can check with their doctor to see if they qualify for FVRx. Qualifications vary slightly by location but the program is designed for low-income patients at a high risk of diet-related disease. 

The Basics

Aren’t farmers markets expensive?

Farmers market produce may be more expensive than a bag of cheetos, but is not as expensive as many imagine. A growing majority of markets offer reasonably priced produce, that when combined with doubling of SNAP, offers a real deal for shoppers. 

Do farmers markets operate in the winter?

Many farmers markets in warmer climates operate throughout the year, but even in colder climates more and more markets work year-round, using indoor spaces and relying on farmers with greenhouses and season-extension practices. We are also working with supermarkets to ensure that folks enrolled in our programs have access to fresh produce year round. 

Do you only help people purchase fruits & vegetables? What about other healthy foods?

While a wide variety of foods can be part of a healthy diet, everyone agrees that produce is essential to eat every single day for health. Only 1 in 10 American children eats enough fruits and vegetables.

Don’t people on food stamps mostly eat fast food?

No—food stamps (now known as SNAP) can’t even be spent on fast food or hot food, only groceries. Instead, people who have only a few dollars a day to spend on food often spend it on cheap staples like instant rice, instant noodles, bread and peanut butter.

How can I keep up to date on Wholesome Wave’s work?
I can afford produce. How does this issue affect me?

While you may not struggle to afford healthy food, many families do and this has negative impacts on whole communities - diet-related illness costs the country over $1.4 trillion a year. 

Is this cause only supported by people on the political Left?

No - produce incentives enjoy hearty bi-partisan support. Wholesome Wave is founded on the idea of choice, and offers a market-based solution. We also see that economic decisions can have powerful social impacts. All Americans should be able to choose to buy a head of broccoli, rather than a bag of chips. When we provide the financial incentive on produce purchases, we ensure that all Americans can choose to use their buying power for good.

Isn’t nutrition education important?

While everyone could learn more about nutrition, for tens of millions of Americans the true barrier to healthful eating is the cost. If people can’t afford produce, they can’t buy it. When they can, they do. 

What is SNAP?

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is America’s largest safety net program. More than 40 million Americans rely on SNAP to eat.

When people qualify for SNAP (Food Stamps), how much do they receive?

In 2016, SNAP shoppers received an average $125 per person—less than $5 per day.

Who receives SNAP (food stamps)?

Over 40 millions Americans rely on SNAP to have enough to eat. Three-quarters of households receiving SNAP have a child, elderly individual or person with disabilities in the home. Vulnerable households, including single-parent families in poverty, struggle to afford food much more than the general population.

Why focus on food? What about bigger problems?

The fact is, food touches so many other issues. When people spend more money on produce, farms, merchants and businesses thrive and create more jobs. Local agricultural economies benefit, and farmers keep farming. Fruit-and-vegetable agriculture provides 2.6 times more economic value than conventional crops. And when people can afford daily produce, over time, public health improves. Children do better in school, people stay out of emergency rooms and avoid expensive treatments like insulin and dialysis. As a nation, we stand to save billions on healthcare costs. This is why we call these outcomes a win-win-win. Maybe it would be more accurate to call it a win-win-win-win-win!

Why make produce affordable?

When people can afford produce, they buy it. And when the millions of Americans struggling with poverty eat more fruits and vegetables, we see immediate improvements for families and farmers—and enormous long-term gains for public health, local economies, and the environment.

Why support Wholesome Wave?

Lack of fresh produce has created one of the most troubling health epidemics in our history, and poses a more serious threat to life than war, gun violence or smoking. 1 in 3 kids in the US are obese, and the rates are highest for children in poverty. Not to mention the billions our country spends on diet-related illness each year. Worst of all, it can all be prevented. Poverty should never be an obstacle to something as fundamental as fruits and vegetables. 

The Network

Are there other network members in my state?

Check out our map, to see if there are existing members in your region.

Does it cost anything to join Wholesome Wave’s national network?

No, membership is free.  Instead of paying a fee, network members share their information which we compile into a robust national data set to demonstrate impact and success for policymakers and other key stakeholders.

How do I join the network?

It’s easy! Simply fill out our quick online application and our expert staff will be in direct touch.

What are the benefits of joining?

Network members gain access to nationally-tested tools, technology platforms, a step-by-step “program builder,” and a nationwide community through an active listserv and annual summit. Ongoing networking groups and grant programs offer further opportunities for development. Network members can also engage Wholesome Wave for one-on-one assistance, tailored trainings and state and federal policy advocacy support.

Who can join the network?

The network is open to organizations working to make produce more accessible and affordable, especially at the community or state level. Network members include government agencies, nonprofits, and operators of farmers markets, supermarkets corner stores and CSAs, as well as hospitals and clinics interested in prescribing healthy foods. The network is a relationship incubator that connects members to a broad network of peer organizations making produce affordable across the country.

Need More Assistance?

Contact us with your question, and we will respond as soon as we can.