The Rapidian

Double Up now on fresh fruits and vegetables

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Fair Food Network celebrates second season of Double Up Food Bucks at farmers' markets.
Fruits and vegetables are easier to get with the Bridge Card and Double Up Food Bucks

Fruits and vegetables are easier to get with the Bridge Card and Double Up Food Bucks /Photo by Terry Johnston

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Now you can get more fresh fruits and vegetables when you use your Bridge Card at farmers’ markets, thanks to a new program called Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB). The program matches Bridge Card (food stamps) purchases at the markets, dollar-for-dollar up to $20, with DUFB tokens, which can be used to buy fresh Michigan-grown produce.

According to the Michigan Department of Human Services, approximately one out of every five people in Michigan receives federal SNAP (food assistance) benefits, and those benefits total over $2 billion each year. The goal of Double Up Food Bucks is to encourage Bridge Card shoppers to spend more of those benefits on fresh, healthy foods from Michigan’s local farmers. The program is run by Ann Arbor-based nonprofit Fair Food Network.

DUFB started in August 2010 at 13 participating farmers’ markets in Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Battle Creek. From August to October, the amount of Bridge Card benefits and DUFB tokens used at the markets to purchase fresh, Michigan-grown vegetables totaled over $200,000.

This summer, five Grand Rapids-area markets have joined the program, along with 39 markets across Michigan. “Our goal for 2011 is to help even more Michigan families in need get twice as much healthy food while supporting Michigan farmers,” says Dr. Oran Hesterman, president and CEO of Fair Food Network. 

The program is easy to use. For every $2 you spend on your Bridge Card, you’ll receive a Double Up Food Bucks token worth $2 that you can use to buy fresh fruits or vegetables. You can receive up to $20 in matching tokens each market day until the end of October. Visit the Bridge Card tent or office at the market for more information or assistance using Double Up Food Bucks.

Michigan’s farmers grow the second most diverse range of crops of any state after California, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture. In August, September, and October, customers at the markets may find apples, corn, tomatoes, beans, greens, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, raspberries, peppers, and more – and shoppers using Bridge Cards will be able to buy twice as much!

Bridge Card holders are not the only ones benefitting from DUFB: Michigan farmers are seeing new sales opportunities and increased business. Dru Montri, director of the Michigan Farmers Market Association and a farmer selling at the Bath Township Farmers Market, explains: “Not only does Double Up Food Bucks help make fresh, local produce more affordable for low-income shoppers, but the extra buying power boosts business for all the vendors in the markets. Supporting small- and mid-size farmers and food businesses is a great way to support the Michigan economy.” 

Double Up Food Bucks tokens are available at five farmers’ markets in the Grand Rapids area: the Fulton Street Farmers Market, the YMCA Farmers’ Market, the South East Area Farmers Market in Grand Rapids, plus the Plainfield Township Farmers Market and the Sparta Farmers Market. 

“Double Up Food Bucks is helping to create the kind of market that Michigan needs now more than ever – more healthy fruits and vegetables for lowincome families, and more revenue for local farmers in a sustainable, dependable way,” says Hesterman. 

Double Up Food Bucks in Grand Rapids is supported by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Slemons Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Open Society Foundations, with additional support from the Michigan Department of Human Services, Michigan Nutrition Network, and USDA Rural Development

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