Iowa’s statewide program improves healthy food access, supports farmers
Iowa’s statewide healthy food incentive program, Double Up Food Bucks is expanding to 13 sites across 8 counties this summer. A program led by the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, Double Up Food Bucks increases low-income shoppers’ purchasing power for fruits and vegetables while supporting local farmers. With Double Up, SNAP recipients can use their EBT cards at the market, and receive a matching number of Double Up Food Bucks (up to $10 per day). They may use the SNAP benefits to buy any SNAP-eligible items at the market, and use the Double Up Food Bucks for any locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. See below for a list of participating locations.
Here’s how Double Up works: Double Up matches the value of SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program called Food Assistance in Iowa) 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.
The wins are three-fold: Low-income families eat more healthy food, local farmers gain new customers and make more money, and more food dollars stay in the local economy. Each has a ripple effect of benefits.
“Double Up Food Bucks not only helps low-income families eat healthier diets, but also helps local farmers and keeps food dollars in our local economy,” said Jami Haberl, Executive Director of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. “Everyone recognizes that you can’t have a strong workforce without healthy people. And if we don’t have a strong workforce, we’re not going to have a strong economy. Ultimately, it is about the importance of having healthy, strong people who can carry out the tasks needed within our business economy to ensure that our communities and our families can continue to thrive and drive into the future.”
Double Up Food Bucks began in 2016 as a 4-month pilot at six Iowa farmers markets and is now active at 13 sites including farmers markets, farm stands, and mobile markets across Iowa. In 2016, the program reached over 1,000 SNAP recipients resulting in more than $25,000 worth of fresh healthy foods being purchased from Iowa family farmers. From the 2016 program evaluation, 94 percent of SNAP shoppers reported eating more fruits and vegetables and 74 percent of farmers reported making more money because of Double Up Food Bucks. The program feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from customers and farmers alike, “Double Up Food Bucks is one of the best programs I have experienced that is helping to create more equity in our food system. DUFB does not work within a charity model, but leverages community resources to equally support farmers and eaters on a local level. I look forward to the Double Up Food Bucks program continuing to grow and expand throughout Iowa,” said a local farmer selling at the Iowa City Farmers Market.
The program’s success is rooted in partnerships — with local markets who bring it to life in their communities, organizations who help extend its impact with targeted outreach and complementary programming, and major statewide organizations including AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa and United Healthcare who generously provide financial support.
The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) is proud to be a part of DUFB by utilizing the successful Wireless EBT Project to introduce new, innovative technology that accepts EBT and the Double Up gift cards. SNAP recipients are able to shop and spend their EBT benefits at 30 farmers stands, at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market. DHS is excited that DUFB will give SNAP families the ability to consume more Iowa-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
The 2017 Double Up Food Bucks program aims to serve nearly 5,000 Iowa SNAP households resulting in $100,000 of fresh, healthy food being taken home from Iowa markets and directly benefit over 300 participating Iowa farmers. For more information on Double Up Food Bucks visit www.iowahealthieststate.com/double-up-food-bucks
Double Up Food Bucks Participating Farmers Markets, 2017
Black Hawk County:
Greens to Go Non-profit Mobile Produce Stand, Waterloo, Iowa***
Spencer's Riverfront Farmers Market, Spencer, Iowa
Dubuque Farmers Market, Dubuque, Iowa
Iowa City Farmers Markets, Iowa City, Iowa
Beaverdale Farmers Market, Des Moines, Iowa
Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, Des Moines, IA***
Drake Neighborhood Farmers Market, Des Moines, IA
Lutheran Services in Iowa Global Greens Farmers Market, Des Moines, IA
Nourish Mobile Grocery Store, Des Moines, IA
Valley Junction Farmers Market, West Des Moines, IA
Grinnell Farmers Market, Grinnell, Iowa
Red Earth Gardens, The local food source of the Meskwaki Nation, Tama, Iowa***
Northeast Iowa Winneshiek Farmers Market, Decorah, Iowa
***Sites participating in the Wireless EBT Project and Double Up Food Bucks gift card pilot program
About Double Up Food Bucks: Learn more about Double Up Food Bucks at ww.iowahealthieststate.com/double-up-food-bucks featuring a complete list of participating markets, an infographic showing how it works, and more. You can also call us at 515-309-3227 or email email@example.com.
The Healthiest State Initiative is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization driven by the goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation. By engaging worksites, communities, schools, retail food, organizations, institutions and individuals, we can inspire Iowans and their communities to improve their health and happiness, and ultimately achieve our goal. For more information, visit www.iowahealthieststate.com.