The Big River Economic and Agricultural Alliance (BREADA) announced that use of the Red Stick Rewards program at Baton Rouge-area Red Stick Farmers Markets increased by 33 percent in the fall of 2018 following a previously announced partnership between BREADA and Louisiana Healthcare Connections.
The program offers a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $10 in purchases made with a Louisiana SNAP/EBT card at any local Red Stick Farmers Market. SNAP, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, offers nutrition assistance to eligible, low-income individuals and families. SNAP participants receive benefits on an EBT card, formerly known as a food stamp card, which is then used to purchase eligible food items at SNAP-participating retailers.
The Healthy Louisiana Medicaid health plan announced its sponsorship of the Red Stick Rewards program in September of 2018. Louisiana Healthcare Connections then began working with BREADA to promote the program among its members and within its network of healthcare providers and community partners as part of its efforts to improve access to healthy, fresh foods in the Baton Rouge area.
“The Red Stick Rewards program creates a healthy local food system that serves everyone in our community, regardless of income level,” says BREADA Executive Director Copper Alvarez. “The matching program increases access to fresh, locally grown, and nutritious foods for SNAP customers and provides additional revenue for Louisiana’s small-scale family farmers. It is a win-win program, and BREADA is fortunate to partner with Louisiana Healthcare Connections in promoting healthy lifestyles for children and families in our community.”
BREADA’s report of the increased program utilization comes on the heels of Louisiana Healthcare Connections’ announcement of a similar SNAP matching program partnership in the New Orleans area. On January 2, 2019, the health plan announced that it is partnering with Sankofa, a New Orleans-based nonprofit, to match up to $10 in SNAP/EBT purchases at any of the organization’s Fresh Stop markets.
“There is a very clear relationship between a lack of access to healthy foods and poor health within underserved communities and vulnerable populations,” says Louisiana Healthcare Connections Chief Operating Officer Kendra Case. “Organizations like BREADA and Sankofa share our commitment to helping Louisiana families improve their access to healthy, fresh foods, and we are proud to have them as our partners.”