Earlier today, USDA announced the results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) and additional efforts to empower low-income families with the knowledge and skills they need to purchase and prepare healthy foods using SNAP benefits. To make the announcement, Secretary Vilsack conducted a call with Dr. Oran Hesterman, President and CEO of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Fair Food Network. Read more about Dr. Hesterman’s work and Fair Food Network’s project to improve SNAP recipients’ access to locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables in metropolitan Detroit below.
by Oran Hesterman, Ph.D. President and CEO, Fair Food Network
Double Up Food Bucks, the successful program initiated by Fair Food Network to provide healthy, fresh produce to low-income families while also supporting local farmers, has expanded its reach from farmers’ markets to grocery stores. Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) doubles the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits—also known food stamps—when used for fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables at nearly 100 farmers’ markets across Michigan. This 90 second video shows you exactly how this program works.
In 2012, Fair Food Network received a special waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the first of its kind in the country, to bring its model program into three grocery stores in Detroit to make purchasing healthy fruits and vegetables even more accessible to thousands of new customers in underserved communities. During the trial period of July 1 to October 31, this innovative grocery pilot will enable recipients who spend at least $10 on produce items using a Bridge Card (Michigan’s SNAP card) to get a DUFB Reward Card good for another $10 of Michigan-grown produce.
The full service markets participating in this program are Metro Foodland, Mike’s Fresh Market on Gratiot and Honey Bee Market. Excitement over the initiation of this program is captured in an interview that I did with WDIV Detroit’s during the launch of this program.
As I said at the time, Fair Food Network is working in partnership with UpLift Solutions and with the cooperation of the Michigan Department of Human Services to continue building a scalable model program that can be replicated in other locations. Strong collaboration across sectors between Fair Food Network and government agencies, businesses, and individuals has provided the important glue that has set this program on an upward trajectory.
Financial backing for the DUFB grocery pilot is provided by the AFPD Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, McGregor Fund, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Kresge Foundation and Bank of America Charitable Foundation.
Double Up Food Bucks began in 2009 at five farmers’ markets in Detroit. Customers have since visited dozens of participating markets over 100,000 times, spending $3.5 million in combined SNAP benefits and incentive dollars for healthful, fresh foods from local producers.
We are excited to provide the opportunity for more people to make healthy food choices and have access to the freshest, local produce that Michigan farmers can offer.
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How do they track that these monies do not go to China or Chile instead of local farmers?
I would like to know when this will hit the Roseburg, OR area as I know alot of people who have to use SNAP and want fresh local and it gets expensive.
I wish the local markets market would even take food stamps here in Tampa
I think in general it is difficult for a lot of low income people to get to a grocery store, never mind to China. I also don't think the Chinese accept U.S. food stamps. Vendors at farmers markets are generally selling perishable products, and many have really strict rules about reselling (they don't allow vendors to sell food they didn't grow on their own local farm). It is possible that in some markets people are reselling imported food, but especially with perishable food, I don't think that is very common. It is certainly less of a possibility that the fresh food sold at farmers markets will have come from China that it is that the apple juice, or contents of a can of soup purchased at a supermarket will have overseas.
Many farmers' markets require that you sell only what you have grown. Even if farmers are selling at a farmers' market through a distributor, they are most likely sourcing from many local farmers. Farmers might choose to do this because they do not have enough produce or variety to have a stand alone farm stand, or because they participate in more than one market and can only be in one place at a time.
The participating grocery stores were required to utilize signage indicating which produce was locally sourced (grown in state). Though incentive funds could be earned for SNAP benefits spent on any produce, they could only be spent on Michigan grown produce. For example, you get bonus value when you buy bananas and avocados, but you can only spend the extra you get on apples and cherries from Michigan.
Could someone give me a call I own a produce market my customers are asking about double their ebt if they buy local.