Healthiest State Initiative receives USDA funding to expand SNAP produce incentives to retail grocery stores
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded a three-year grant, totaling $480,044, to the Healthiest State Initiative to expand Double Up Food Bucks. The state’s produce incentive program provides fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income Iowa families while supporting local farmers. The grant is matched with private funds bringing total project support to nearly $1 million.
In 2018, the Double Up Food Bucks program is projected to serve nearly 5,000 Iowa families resulting in $100,000 worth of fresh produce sales at Iowa farmers markets and grocery stores, directly benefitting more than 300 farmers in the state.
“Double Up Food Bucks wins are three-fold: SNAP families eat healthier food, local farmers gain new customers, and more dollars stay in the local economy. Each have a ripple effect of benefits for Iowans,” said Jami Haberl, executive director of the Healthiest State Initiative.
While Iowa is a national agricultural leader, the state ranks poorly when it comes to fruit and vegetable consumption. Double Up Food Bucks helps low-income families bring home more nutritious produce, by matching SNAP benefits spent at participating sites up to $10 per day. Those additional dollars can be spent on locally grown fruits and vegetables.
LEARN MORE: How does Double Up Food Bucks work?
Expanded funding will increase Iowan’s access to the Double Up Food Bucks program though engagement of retail grocery stores including: New Pioneer Food Co-op, Hy-Vee, Inc. and Fareway Stores, Inc. New Pioneer began working with the Healthiest State Initiative to offer the program to customers at its three Iowa locations in May 2018.
“This has been a win-win for our Co-op, local farmers, and people in need. Since we are a grocery store, SNAP users can redeem their benefits when it is convenient for them, and they are not limited to farmers market hours,” said Genie Maybanks, marketing coordinator at New Pioneer. “Double Up Food Bucks gives farmers access to more market share, and it makes healthy local food more accessible for all.”
RELATED: USDA visits Iowa City to see Double Up Food Bucks in action
Double Up Food Bucks, launched in 2009 by the Michigan-based nonprofit Fair Food Network, has since become a national model for healthy food incentives and is active in more than 20 states. This grant is the fourth and final round of federal funding for healthy food incentive programs provided by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program established in the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Double Up Food Bucks’ success is rooted in partnerships,” said Haberl, referencing the diverse public and private partnerships fueling Double Up in Iowa including state agencies, local markets, nonprofits, community leaders and businesses. “Our partners are strengthening the program and ensuring its continued positive health and economic impact for all Iowans.”
Statewide funding of the 2018 Iowa Double Up Food Bucks program include Wells Fargo, AmeriGroup/Anthem Foundation, Alliant Energy and ITC Midwest.
PARTICIPATING LOCATIONS: Find a farmers market or grocery store near you