There is an exciting program at the Prescott Farmers Market for anyone receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits! Double Up Food Bucks (Double Up) helps families bring home more fresh fruit and vegetables by partially matching what they spend on produce each market day. Double Up is part of a nationwide effort to improve access to healthy food while also supporting local economies and farms. The way Double Up works at the Prescott Farmers Market is simple. Customers swipe their EBT card at the information booth, and receive tokens for the money they need to purchase fresh produce. Double Up matches up to $10 with free additional tokens to spend.
Food Bucks began in 2009 at five farmers markets in Detroit, Michigan. In the years since, Double Up has grown to include over 150 farmers markets and supermarkets in Michigan alone, as well new sites in 18 other states, including Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Double Up grew out of the creative efforts of the Fair Food Network, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building a more just and sustainable food system. When low-income families buy fresh, local produce, members of the whole community benefit. According to Michigan Double Up Food Bucks statistics:
- 87% of Michigan SNAP recipients report eating more fruits and vegetables because of Double Up.
- Sixty-three percent of participating farmers report making more money, and many report plans to expand their farms because of increased demand from new customers.
- In 2007, less than $16,000 in SNAP benefits was spent at Michigan farmers markets. That number increased to $1.6 million in 2014, thanks in large part to statewide implementation of Double Up.
Giving low-income individuals and families some extra produce-buying power can have a significant, positive impact on their health. Hundreds of studies demonstrate that eating more fresh produce each day reduces our risk for many chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. However, most Americans, especially those with limited incomes, consistently fail to eat the recommended 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruit a day.
We can enjoy some added benefits from eating locally grown, fresh produce: fruits and vegetables that are picked at peak ripeness often contain more valuable nutrients, and certainly taste better, than produce that is shipped from farms hundreds or thousands of miles away! Double Up is a collaborative program that combines private dollars with funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Double Up Food Bucks Arizona was launched this year, and by 2018 is expected to benefit 32,000 SNAP recipients in Maricopa, Yavapai, Pinal and Pima counties.
Kathleen Yetman, Managing Director of the Prescott Farmers Market, has seen participation grow throughout our communities. “The Prescott Farmers Market, Prescott Valley Farmers Market and Chino Valley Farmers Market (June-October) all participate in the Double Up AZ program. Since the program launched in July 2016, $1,572 in Double Up Food Bucks have been distributed through these markets and 61 new customers have used their EBT cards at one or more markets. Customer feedback has been positive and awareness of the program is slowly increasing”.
The Prescott Winter Farmers Market is open now through the last week in April in Prescott and Prescott Valley. Stop by and sample juicy, sweet carrots; bright red and purple radishes; vibrant, nutritious greens and sprouts; and more. The Prescott Winter Farmer’s Market is held at the YRMC Wellness Center, 930 Division Street (across from the YMCA), on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and at the Harkins Theater, on the corner of Glassford Hill Road and Park Avenue in Prescott Valley, on Tuesdays from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. For more information on Double Up, visit the market information booth or go to their website at http://www.prescottfarmersmarket.org.