Double Up Food Bucks, Iowa’s statewide healthy food incentive program, is coming to Iowa City – starting July 2. The Double Up program matches the value of federal nutrition benefits spent at participating farmers markets, helping people bring home healthier, locally grown fruits and vegetables. 

Double Up matches the value of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) purchases made at participating sites with additional dollars to spend on fresh, locally grown produce. For instance, a family that spends $10 in SNAP benefits at a participating farmers market receives an additional $10 in Double Up Food Bucks to purchase Iowa-grown fruits and vegetables.

“We’re very excited to offer local families the opportunity to bring home even more delicious, healthy food, while supporting our local growers” said Tammy Neumann, who manages the Farmers Market for Iowa City Parks and Recreation.

The wins are three-fold: Low-income families eat healthier food, local farmers gain new customers and make more income, and more food dollars stay in the local economy. Each has a ripple effect of benefits.

“Double Up Food Bucks creates the kind of win/win solutions Iowa needs: more nutritious food for low-income families and more revenue for local famers. This results in healthy people, as well as resilient rural and urban communities,” said Jami Haberl, Executive Director of the Healthiest State Initiative, coordinators of the Double Up Food Bucks program.

Since its launch in 2009, Double Up has grown from five farmers markets in Detroit, MI to a nationwide success story with more than 150 sites including 142 farmer markets and direct marketing farms. To date, it has benefited more than 300,000 low-income families.

Locally, the program is funded through money designated by the Iowa City Council Sustainable/Locally Grown Agriculture initiative, with support from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and the Healthiest State Initiative. 

The Iowa City Farmers Market began accepting electronic SNAP payments market-wide this year. Shoppers bring their EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) to a centralized information table and swipe their card in exchange for tokens. Qualifying vendors accept those tokens. 

Hours for the Iowa City Farmers Markets are: Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at Mercer Park, 1317 Dover Street; Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. at Chauncey Swan Ramp in the 400-block of Washington St.; and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon at Chauncey Swan Ramp. The Mercer Park Market operates through August 30, and the Chauncey Swan Market operates through the last week in October.

For more information about the Double Up Food Bucks program, visit www.DoubleUpFoodBucks.org, email info@doubleupfoodbucks.org or call 866-586-2796. Additional information about Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative is available at www.iowahealthieststate.com

Date of publication

Friday, July 01, 2016

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