By Lauren Kollauf on Friday, February 21, 2020

Grinnell w/ Logo

Double Up Food Bucks is 'invaluable' to rural communities, farmers say

How can Iowa improve access to affordable, healthy food for low-income Iowa consumers while also supporting Iowa family farmers and rural communities?

One solution: Double Up Food Bucks.

The SNAP-incentive program connects farmers with local consumers to help solve the challenges rural Iowa communities face including higher rates of poverty, obesity, supermarket scarcity and food insecurity. The program also helps farmers build their customer base, increase their sales and close the healthy food access gap for their fellow Iowans. 

DOUBLE UP FOOD BUCKS: How it works | Find a location

These are three factors that matter the most to the farmers who participate in Double Up Food Bucks:

Expanded customer base

"We saw more customers that probably wouldn't have been able to afford to come to market to purchase extra food for their families or themselves. It brought more people out and we had return customers." — Kathy Salow, Kirkwood's SunCountry Produce in Hopkinton

"People in need of whole, healthy food can be seen as an untapped market to farmers. If this untapped market has the means of accessing the food ... everybody wins."  — Adrian White, Jupiter Ridge Farm in Garber

Increased sales + income

"The Double Up Food Bucks program increased our sales at nearly every farmers market we attended this year." — Molly Schintler, Echollective Farm LLC in Mechanicsville

"Double Up Food Bucks (does) make up a significant portion of our sales, which means that many of our regulars are people who otherwise wouldn't have access to the healthy food we grow." — Adrian White, Jupiter Ridge Farm in Garber

Access to healthy food for all Iowans

"The Double Up Food Bucks program is invaluable to our community. Nearly 40% of families in our area struggle to meet basic needs from month to month. Often food pantries do not have local produce available. The Double Up program (builds) equity into our food system through increased access to local, fresh food." — Molly Schintler, Echollective Farm LLC in Mechanicsville

"Encouraging healthy eating is so important for social, educational and community health. Not just personal physical health." — Ann Brau, Compass Plant CSA in Grinnell

100% of farmers who were surveyed at the end of the 2019 growing season say they'll continue to participate in the program. The program has grown from six participating farmers markets in 2016 to more than 30 locations in 2019, including farmers markets, farm stands, food co-ops and grocery stores – and has the potential for further growth to reach all corners of the state.

BY THE NUMBERS: Double Up Food Bucks has a big economic impact

Currently, the Double Up Food Bucks program in Iowa relies on federal funds with a matching mechanism that is secured through private funding and in-kind donations. Appropriation for the program through Iowa state general funds is vital to continually leverage federal dollars and ensure the sustainability of the program. Investing in Double Up Food Bucks helps support local farmers, keeps food dollars in Iowa and allows people to have access to healthier food.