The Heart of the City staff team works hard to increase vendor revenue by facilitating customer spending, attracting new customers, linking our vendors with food assistance programs that increase customer spending, and shouldering the burden of paperwork for our farmers to accept alternate forms of currency. In 2016, grant writing and promotional efforts by market staff increased vendor revenue by $453,634.
Staff at our market information tent handed out 1,192,733 tokens in 2016, an average of 12,000 tokens per market day. That is unprecedented for a farmers market and makes us the largest farmers market token program in California and one of the largest in the nation.
EBT Program: We hit a new record high in 2016 in our efforts to expand our EBT customer outreach. EBT sales in 2016 increased by more than $85,000 over 2015 sales. Due to our ongoing promotional efforts, EBT sales have increased by 322% from $123,000 in 2010 to over $419,188 in 2016. We are the largest EBT program of any California farmers market and are held as a national model for executing large-scale EBT operations on a low budget with a small team. We train other market managers on best practices to create strong community partnerships and manage a high-volume system.
Market Match Program: Our partnership with Ecology Center's federal Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant allows us to match all EBT purchases up to $5. $255,618 in blue Market Match incentive tokens was distributed in 2016, which EBT customers used to purchase additional produce from our farmers. This program alone provided an average of $4,925 in extra sales revenue per farmer per year.
EatSF and CHIVES Voucher Program: We've partnered with San Francisco General Hospital Foundation and the EatSF team to provide fruit and vegetables to low-income San Francisco residents with health challenges that will benefit from added produce in their diets. At the end of 2016, this partnership was expanded to include more participants as a part of the CHIVES program. Market staff accepts and fills out vouchers at the market tent in exchange for red tokens to shop with farmers. Our farmers benefitted from $113,016 in extra revenue from this program in 2016.
Credit Card Program: We continue to facilitate customer spending and level the technological playing field between farmers by swiping credit cards at the market information tent in exchange for green tokens. Credit card purchases increased to $440,032 in 2016 from $404,911 in 2015. We continue to pay the credit card processing fees at no cost to farmers or customers.
WIC Program: We continue to help farmers by redeeming their Women Infants and Children and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers for them, so they don’t have to deposit them in their own bank accounts or pay any of the associated fees. Farmers turned in $35,609 to us in WIC checks in 2016. We now accept WIC Fruit and Vegetable Checks.
VeggieRX: We also accept VeggieRx vouchers in partnership with Fresh Approach.