The Double Up Food Bucks Program Is More Important Than Ever

The Lempert Report
November 06, 2018

This program gives SNAP recipients produce incentives to boost the value of SNAP benefits when spent on fruits and vegetables.

The nonprofit has received $1.5 million in new federal support to expand the Double Up Food Bucks produce incentive program to independent grocery stores in five states, Alabama, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Texas reaching nearly 1 million SNAP recipients. 

The Federal funding is matched by philanthropic and local public support. 

“Bringing Double Up to grocery stores means more low-income families get more nutritious food grown by American farmers,” said Oran Hesterman, CEO of Fair Food Network, which developed the Double Up model in 2009 in Michigan. “These stores are anchors of healthy food access in their communities.”

Double Up has been a leader in innovation. They were the first group to bring the incentives to supermarkets. Now in Alabama and New Jersey, Double Up incentives will be integrated with SNAP online purchasing pilots. 

Now the Double Up Food Bucks program will be in 24 states, many supported by USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program that was established in the 2014 Farm Bill. We can only hope that the new Farm Bill now under discussion will continue this important focus on produce.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded 24 grants totaling $21 million to help SNAP participants increase their purchases of fruits and vegetables by providing incentives at the point of purchase.

“We are encouraging low-income families to choose affordable and healthy food options to feed their families. NIFA has on ongoing commitment to improve the diet and health of all Americans,” says Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “At the same time, the program helps growers take advantage of direct marketing and other opportunities to bolster their sales thereby improving their bottom line.”

Increasing low-income communities’ abilities to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables not only helps to improve the health of families, but also expands economic opportunities for farmers.