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Service design for SNAP users in farmer markets 


We have seen many farmer markets around our city. It is an interesting sight in this modern, busy city, and they actually existing for decades and become a part of New Yorkers' live. We think it is valuable and lovely culture that we are willing to see it get better and better. That was the reason we started this project.  


To define our target and problems, we took a run to greenmarket at Union square, one of the biggest farmer market in NYC. We have observed people there and interviewed two venders - Lauren and Greg. There are problems such as Competition from Other Grocery Purveyors, Lack of Awareness and Lack of Engagement. However, behind these big issues, there are some specific problems that we think is worthy to work on - Lower income New Yorkers in Greenmarkets. (managed by Grow NYC)

Why Grow NYC? 

Other nonprofits that manage farmers markets include Just Food and Harvest Home, but Grow NYC’s Greenmarket is the largest network of farmers markets in the city, with more than 50 across the the five boroughs, and the only one that operates markets year -round.  It was founded in 1976, in addition to the 50+ farmers markets that take place each week, the Greenmarket also runs programs that link food producers to wholesale buyers, educate and train youth in entrepreneurship through managing farm stands, and connect underserved communities to fresh produce through an accessible and flexible Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) arrangement.



We went through many documents and found out there are actually many incentives for disadvantaged people. Moreover, there are some advanced programs are made for increasing the usage of the specific incentives.  

What is SNAP? 

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. A federally-funded nutrition assistance which supports , have been around since 1964. Users averagely receive $138 / month to purchase the products they need.  

What is EBT?

In 2004, the government started issuing benefits via an electronic benefit transfer card (EBT) to SNAP users. This helped to reduce stigma, since it works just like a regular debit card.  

What is Health Bucks?

In order to be competitive with other stores and attract more SNAP users. Health Bucks is an incentive for SNAP user, any of them who spends $5 gets $2 more to use at all farmers markets.


Increasing SNAP users use their incentives in greenmarket. 


$236 million SNAP dollars were distributed to New Yorkers in 2015, but only $918,000 of SNAP dollars were spent at the Greenmarkets-- (0.03% of SNAP dollars)

Which means...

Increasing 1% of SNAP using in farmer market = increasing $ 2.4 millions


There are 24% SNAP users who shop at farmer market don't know about Health Bucks.

     $236 million 

for SNAP users

         918,000 (0.03%)

used in farmer market


Interview SNAP users

We went to the market several more times and tried to reach out our targets. It became really hard because it is a sensitive issue. In order to find out the real problems, we contacted some non-profit organizations and eventually had the interviews with SNAP users. 

Observing the system

We also observed the SNAP information consistency at the same time. We went to SNAP registration office, more farmer markets, subways, public housing, and checked the flyers, posters, anything related with it.    


This is a campaign's post ran by Grow NYC, it has showed in some places such as subway. We showed the poster to the interviewees and also got the feedback that It is eye catch but the information should be delivered were unclear. And the organization spent around 100K just for placing the ads.  

So the problems are...

They don't know...

that they can use SNAP in farmer markets.

about Health Bucks and how it works

where to get start after arriving market. 

Lack of awareness 

Solutions & stratgies

Prioritize the information


With Health Bucks, products in farmer markets become affordable, even cheaper. Reorganized the information and place them to our target is an important strategy.  

Instead of the massive information that was presented on the previous poster, our design focus on the core concept which is catch people's attention and inform them about the incentives they could have when spending SNAP in farmer market. We use the colorful and fresh vegetables represent the products users can get in farmer market and large slogan simply says that you can get 40% increase in purchasing power.

To test our design, we printed the poster out and took it to the public housing near an opened farmer market around Lincoln Center. There weren't many people passed by but some of them slowed down and peak the poster. After the first spot, we moved to Trader's Joe on 72st. There were much more people walk by and we got 7 people stoped and asked the info, two of them were our target and pretty happy about the information. The activities proof that our strategy was right.


Reach the target

We have found out that our target users normally stick on traditional way to get information, and usually are passive and feel bad to talk about their situation. So deliver the right information to the right place appears very important.

Put the information at SNAP registration office to info user their benefit at first place, then public housing, subways, community center, hospital. Moreover, use physical mails and media channels to hit the target would be efficient.  

Physical Mail

Step 1.

Attract receiver by showing the ad flyer.

Step 2.

Step 3.

Showing how easy the steps are to get the extra incentive so that user would like to try. 

The map with all the farmer markets' location and schedule to help user get to the closest market. 

Social Media

Instead of making and managing a new media platform, partner with organizations that already providing direct service to SNAP users is a more reasonable choice. We want to use their existing social media channels to inform the people they serve. Moreover, they are more trustworthy and efficient.


Wei Ting Kuo


Idea Development

Poster Design 


Alex Frankel



Idea Development


Katarina Yee



Idea Development


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