Simon Bucumi, pictured at LSI Global Greens Farmers Market in Des Moines in 2019.
How Double Up Food Bucks helps local farmers
It is estimated that meals in the United States travel about 1,500 miles before they reach your plate. That seems hard to imagine in Iowa where we are surrounded by rich soil and family farmers growing everything from sweet corn to apples.
Imagine a program that helps get more of the food grown in Iowa into the mouths of Iowans.
When people first hear about Double Up Food Bucks, it's often assumed that the customer is the main benefactor because they are able to match their SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance program, formerly known as food stamps) funds dollar-for-dollar for Double Up Food Bucks and spend them on fresh fruits and vegetables.
RELATED: How Double Up Food Bucks works | Find a location near you
However, the benefits of the program are, in fact, three-fold: Not only do low-income Iowans get access to healthy foods, but farmers make more money, and more food dollars stay in the local economy – instead of going 1,500 miles away.
"Double Up Food Bucks helps bring more customers to the market. We are making more money at our market than we used to make," said Simon Bucumi, a vendor at LSI Global Greens Farmers Market in Des Moines. "We were nervous because of COVID-19 that it would be a bad year for selling, but Double Up Food Bucks helped. We had many customers."
MORE: What farmers say about Double Up Food Bucks
Since the program was first piloted in 2016, Double Up Food Bucks transactions at farmers markets have continued to increase. In 2020, shoppers purchased $152,341 in fruits and vegetables from local growers at participating farmers markets.
Double Up Food Bucks that are redeemed at farmers market is money that goes directly into the pockets of local farmers and, in turn, the communities where they live and work. A single dollar spent at a farmers’ market can generate $2.50 for the local economy!
2020 ANNUAL REPORT: See the impact of Double Up Food Bucks
Double Up Food Bucks also helps customers eat healthier by making fresh produce more affordable. In a 2020 survey, 92 percent of respondents said since starting to use the program, they eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
"Double Up Food Bucks brings more low-income people out to the farmers market and gives them access to healthier food," said Becky Huang, a vendor at the North Iowa Farmers Market in Mason City. "Double Up Food Bucks brings new customers and more sales to us."
Double Up Food Bucks is a SNAP-incentive program in Iowa that matches food assistance dollars 1:1 on purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. Learn more and find a participating location near you: DoubleUpIowa.org