Nonprofit organization Fair Food Network has received $1.5 million in new federal support to expand the Double Up Food Bucks produce incentive program to grocery stores in five states, reaching nearly 1 million SNAP recipients. Produce incentives boost the value of SNAP benefits when spent on fruits and vegetables.
This funding will launch Double Up at independent grocery stores in Alabama, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Texas. Work in Alabama and Texas also is supporting a nascent network of farmers markets. 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.”
Fair Food Network is a national provider of SNAP incentives and one of the first organizations to bring them to grocery stores. The new funding continues Double Up innovation. In Alabama and New Jersey, Double Up incentives will be integrated with SNAP online purchasing pilots. Projects also are focusing on farm-to-grocer links to ensure strong local and regional produce sourcing, a hallmark of the Double Up model, says Fair Food Network.
This year, 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.
Double Up programs in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii and Iowa also received FINI awards this year, alongside a Double Up program in South Dakota and North Dakota that will serve Native American communities.
SNAP program grants total $21 million
The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded 24 grants totaling $21 million, including Fair Food Network’s $1.5 million grant, 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,” said 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.”
Other grant participants this year include Wholesome Wave Georgia, which provides fresh local produce to food-insecure families through the Georgia Fresh for Less (GF4L) incentive program. GF4L wants to implement an “e-incentive” technology and expand the program into additional sites throughout Georgia.
Another program participant, The Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention wants to create a unified Double Up Food Bucks program in every region of the state.
Grants being announced, by state, are:
FINI Pilot Projects (up to $100,000, not to exceed 1 year):
- Sustainable Molokai, Hawaii, $99,963
- The Land Connection, Illinois, $21,000
- Pillsbury United Communities, Minnesota, $97,231
- South Dakota State University, South Dakota, $82,223
- West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition Inc., West Virginia, $100,000
Multi-year community-based projects (up to $500,000, not to exceed 4 years):
- Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention, Arkansas, $500,000
- International Rescue Committee Inc., Arizona, $400,000
- LiveWell Colorado, Colorado, $466,951
- DC Central Kitchen Inc., D.C., $500,000
- Wholesome Wave Georgia, Georgia, $442,134
- Presence Chicago Hospitals Network, Illinois, $394,916
- The Experimental Station 6100 Blackstone, Illinois, $413,534
- Chicago Horticultural Society, Illinois, $492,793
- Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, Iowa, $480,044
- Community Food and Agriculture Coalition Inc., Montana, $267,153
- Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA, North Carolina, $363,880
Multi-year large-scale projects ($500,000 or greater, not to exceed 4 years):
- Pinnacle Prevention Corp., Arizona, $974,050
- SPUR-San Francisco Bay Area Planning & Urban Research Association, California, $623,430
- Feeding Florida Inc., Florida, $3,047,755
- Fair Food Network, Michigan, $1,544,196
- Reinvestment Partners, North Carolina, $1,000,544
- Produce Perks Midwest Inc., Ohio, $2,276,890
- Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Rhode Island, $4,628,765
- Local Environmental Agriculture Project, Virginia, $1,797,548
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. FINI provides grants on a competitive basis to projects that help low-income consumers participating in SNAP purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through cash incentives that increase their purchasing power at locations like farmers markets.