posted on Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Program fights food insecurity with free fruits and vegetables

Double Up Food Bucks now available at more than 30 locations statewide

Iowans facing food insecurity are now able to access free fruits and vegetables at more than 30 sites, including select farmers markets and retail grocery stores, by utilizing the Double Up Food Bucks program. Many locations – including 14 Fareway stores – opened May 1.

The healthy food incentive program allows SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) customers to match purchases made with their EBT card, up to $10 per day, with Double Up Food Bucks which can be spent on fresh produce.

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

“More than 360,000 children, seniors, families, and individuals face hunger in Iowa every year. Double Up Food Bucks assists Iowans who do not have enough food to eat by helping them receive essential healthy food,” said Linda Gorkow, Iowa Food Bank Association Executive Director. “Addressing hunger requires the collaboration of all and the Double Up Food Bucks program compliments the work being done by the six nonprofit food banks and thousands of pantries and feeding programs across Iowa.”


SNAP customers can now use Double Up Food Bucks at select Fareway stores.

The Double Up Food Bucks program, administered statewide by the Healthiest State Initiative, has more than doubled its number of locations since 2018. Sites include farm stands, farmers markets and retail grocery stores. Double Up Food Bucks currency is transferable between locations.

The retail grocery sector, in particular, has seen exceptional growth, going from three New Pioneer Food Co-op locations in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area in 2018 to 19 stores in 2019, including New Pioneer, select Fareway stores, Wheatsfield Co-op in Ames and Oneota Co-op in Decorah. For a complete list of participating sites, click here.


“We want to make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Iowans,” said Jami Haberl, executive director of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. “Double Up Food Bucks helps us achieve that goal by simultaneously increasing the purchasing power of low-income Iowans and expanding their access to fruits and vegetables. In turn, it provides an economic boost to local farmers and food systems.” 

Double Up Food Bucks receives federal SNAP incentive funding, including a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The funds are then matched with private contributions bringing total project support to nearly $1 million.  Double Up Food Bucks is sponsored by Amerigroup, Alliant Energy, and ITC Group, as well as the regional support of local partners.

How Double Up Food Bucks works: A customer who spends $10 in SNAP benefits at a participating site receives an additional $10 in free Double Up Food Bucks to spend on locally grown fruits and vegetables. The program provides a 1:1 match, up to $10 per day.  Learn more about how the program works in the farmers market and retail grocery settings here.