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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor

SUBJECT: Seattle’s Utility Discount Program partners with Fresh Bucks at Farmers Markets to increase enrollment

8/29/2014  11:38:00 AM
Ivonne Rivera Martinez (206) 684-0155
Joaquin Uy  (206) 684-0155

Seattle's Utility Discount Program partners with Fresh Bucks at Farmers Markets to increase enrollment

SEATTLE - Starting September 6, 2014, staff from Seattle City Light will be available at five Farmers Markets for a two week period to help sign up low-income residents for the Utility Discount Program (UDP). This effort is part of Mayor Ed Murray's commitment to help make Seattle affordable for its working families, with a special emphasis on immigrant and refugee communities.

"Increasing enrollment in the Utility Discount Program is another critical step we are taking on the road to making Seattle affordable for everyone who wants to live here," said Mayor Murray.

City staff will aid with UDP enrollment and Fresh Bucks participation in the following Farmers Market locations and dates:

  • University District, Saturdays, 9/6 and 9/20
  • Broadway, Sundays, 9/7 and 9/21
  • Ballard, Sundays,9/7 and 9/21
  • Columbia City, Wednesdays, 9/10 and 9/24
  • Lake City, Thursdays, 9/11 and 9/25

These sign-up events hope to add new underserved populations to the current 16,000 income-qualified families and individuals enrolled in UDP.
"Immigrant and refugee residents deal with numerous language, cultural and financial challenges on a regular basis, said Cuc Vu, director of the Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. "Keeping the power on and healthy food on their tables shouldn't be among of them."

Seattle's Utility Discount Program is one of the most generous in the country, both in benefits and income qualifications. A family of four making $4905 a month or less can receive up to a 60% discount from their City Light bill and up to a 50% discount on their Water, Sewer and Garbage bill.
"Seattle City Light wants to ensure everyone who needs it can access the Utility Discount Program. One way to do that is to go out and speak to customers directly, make materials and information available in their languages, offer face-to-face communication," said Kelly Enright, Seattle City Light Customer Care Director.

According to a report recently released by Mayor Murray, only an estimated 11% of foreign-born city residents are participating in the UDP. Focus groups conducted during the development of the report found that language barriers present substantial obstacles to service. In order to address the language barriers, interpreters and translated materials will be available during the sign-up events.

Additionally, staff will be educating residents about Fresh Bucks at these events. Fresh Bucks doubles the purchasing power for low-income Seattle residents who use their federal food stamp benefits (called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at Farmers Markets. For every dollar spent at a Seattle farmers market—up to $10—SNAP shoppers receive an additional dollar to spend on fruits and vegetables.

The Fresh Bucks program is a collaborative effort by the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment, the Washington State Farmers Market Association, and Seattle's farmers markets to expand access to healthy food for low-income shoppers at farmers markets. Since launching in 2012, Fresh Bucks has helped more than 5,000 low-income Seattle residents put fresh food on their tables, providing nearly $75,000 in additional buying power that directly supports our region's farmers.

Offering UDP sign-up alongside Fresh Bucks at farmers markets is part of the City's goal to double enrollment in UDP by 2018. For information including eligibility requirements, visit:

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