Iowa's statewide healthy food incentive program -- Double Up Food Bucks -- is expanding to include 13 sites, including the Winneshiek County Farmers Market in Decorah. The program, led by the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, increases the purchasing power of low-income shoppers buying fruits and vegetables while also supporting local farmers.
According to the Iowa Healthiest State website, "Iowa ranks 50th in the nation in fruit and vegetable consumption and over 380,000 Iowans rely on federal food assistance. The Double Up Food Bucks Incentive Program makes it easier for low-income Iowans to eat fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting family farmers and growing local economies."
Double Up Food Bucks matches the value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) food purchases made at participating sites with additional dollars to spend on locally grown fresh produce. A qualifying family that spends $10 in eligible food purchases at a participating farmers market will receive an additional $10 in Double Up Food Bucks to purchase Iowa grown fruits and vegetables.
"The Double Up Food Bucks program not only helps low-income families eat healthier diets, but also helps local farmers and keeps food dollars in our local economy," says Iowa Healthiest State Initiative Executive Director Jami Haberl.
Double Up Food Bucks began in 2016 as four-month pilot at six Iowa farmers markets and is now active at thirteen sites across eight counties. In 2016, the program reached over 1,000 SNAP recipients resulting in more than $25,000 worth of fresh healthy foods being purchased from Iowa family farmers. From the 2016 program evaluation, 94 percent of SNAP shoppers reported eating more fruits and vegetables and 74 percent of farmers reported making more money because of Double Up Food Bucks.
The 2017 Double Up Food Bucks program aims to serve nearly 5,000 Iowa SNAP households resulting in $100,000 of fresh, healthy food being taken home from Iowa markets and directly benefit over 300 participating Iowa farmers.
To learn more about Double Up Food Bucks, visit the Iowa Healthiest State website: www.iowahealthieststate.com/resources/communities/double-up-food-bucks/
A Double Up Food Bucks video is also available on the Northeast Iowa Farmers Markets Facebook page: www.facebook.com/IAFarmerMarket/videos/1080755398724850/