Mayor Bloomberg Discusses How New Health Bucks Program Will Provide Greater Access To Healthy Food For Low Income Families In Weekly Radio Address

July 8, 2012

The following is the text of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s weekly radio address as prepared for delivery on 1010 WINS News Radio for Sunday, July 8, 2012.


“Good Morning. This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

“With delicious summer crops pouring in from local farms, the 138 farmers’ markets that serve New Yorkers are in full swing.  And from now through November 15th, they’ll be doing more than ever to help New Yorkers eat healthy, stay healthy, and fight the obesity epidemic in our city. How?  Because for the first time ever, they’ll all be accepting the City’s “Health Bucks.”  That’s more than twice as many markets as did last year.

“A Health Buck is a coupon good for $2 worth of farmers’ market fruits and vegetables.  Shoppers using Food Stamps at farmers’ markets receive a free $2 Health Buck for every $5 in purchases they make.  Since 2005, we’ve also been distributing them to community organizations in low-income neighborhoods marked by high levels of diet-related illness, such as diabetes, and low levels of fresh produce consumption. 

“Every way you measure it, the Health Bucks program has been a big success for both farmers and shoppers.  A recent survey by the City’s Health Department found that farmers’ markets averaged more than twice as much a day in Food Stamp sales once they began accepting Health Bucks.  Health Bucks also increased income to farmers at participating markets by an average of more than $2,700 a year.  Most importantly, more than 70% of customers surveyed said that, thanks to Health Bucks, more fresh fruits and vegetables were in their diets.  And now, with every farmers’ market in the city in the program, we expect $350,000 worth of free fresh fruits and vegetables to make their way onto New Yorkers’ tables through Health Bucks this summer and fall.

“The Health Bucks program is just one of the ways we’re improving access to healthy foods. Through our Green Carts program, we’ve also introduced nearly 500 fruit and vegetable stands to neighborhoods where fresh produce can be hard to find. This summer we’re also expanding the Stellar Farmers’ Markets program, which brings on-site nutrition education, shopping tips, and cooking demonstrations for turning fresh market produce into tasty, healthy home-cooked meals. These programs, along with other efforts to encourage healthy eating, reduce tobacco use, and expand opportunities for fitness and recreation, are a big reason why New Yorkers on average are living longer, healthier lives.

“Nevertheless, obesity and diabetes remain the only major health problems in our city that are actually getting worse – and sadly, they’re most prevalent in the low-income parts of our city.  Our Administration is working hard to change that – for example, by our recent proposal to limit the sale of over-sized sugary drinks that are the leading contributor to rising levels of obesity and diabetes.  It’s part of our efforts to help more New Yorkers enjoy a brighter, healthier future.   Health Bucks are another great way to do that.  For more information about them – and to find out locations and hours of farmers’ markets near you – call 311 or visit the City’s web site at nyc.gov.

“This is Mayor Mike Bloomberg.  Thanks for listening.”

Stu Loeser

(212) 788-2958