Iowans redeem $1 million in Double Up Food Bucks
Program matches fruits and vegetable purchases for food-insecure Iowans
Iowans facing food insecurity have redeemed more than $1 million in fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and grocery stores utilizing Double Up Food Bucks since it began as a pilot program in 2016. A total of $1,029,461 Double Up Food Bucks have been redeemed as of Monday.
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.
“This is a huge milestone for Double Up Food Bucks in Iowa,” said Jami Haberl, executive director of the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative. “The program has grown from six farmers markets in its first season to now more than 140 locations impacting thousands of families statewide.”
RELATED: How Double Up Food Bucks works in Iowa
The Double Up Food Bucks program, administered by the Healthiest State Initiative, has seen tremendous growth in 2020 after receiving funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expand access to nutritious food for Iowans in need. This temporary funding was made possible through the leadership of Gov. Kim Reynolds in consultation with the Feeding Iowans Task Force, led by Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg.
With CARES Act funding, more than 100 new grocery stores, plus additional food co-ops and farmers markets were able to participate in the Double Up Food Bucks program. This expansion was made possible through partnership with Fareway, Hy-Vee, and the network of farmers markets and food co-ops across the state. For a complete list of participating sites, visit: DoubleUpIowa.org.
Studies show that food insecurity leads to worse health outcomes, is linked with lower quality diets and leads to higher levels of obesity in many populations, according to “The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America” report in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the issue of food insecurity in Iowa and around the nation.
“Double Up Food Bucks is a critical program that allows food-insecure Iowans to stretch their grocery budgets and eat healthier food,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “In doing so, it also strengthens local economies and supports Iowa fruit and vegetable growers.”
Double Up Food Bucks redemption at farmers market has grown more than 400% between 2019 and 2020. Last season, $32,219 were redeemed at farmers markets statewide. So far in 2020, $131,643 have been redeemed. It is estimated that Double Up Food Bucks redemption in Iowa overall has had a $1.73 million impact since it began.
RELATED: How Double Up Food Bucks impacts the economy
The $1 million milestone comes during Healthiest State Month, a celebration of the 5-2-1-0 Healthy Choices Count! initiative. This week of Healthiest State Month is focused on eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Programs like Double Up Food Bucks help increase fruit and vegetable consumption by increasing access while also supporting farmers and stimulating the local economy. To support the work of Double Up Food Bucks, you can make a donation here.
Double Up Food Bucks in Iowa
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. CARES Act funding provides temporary support for the program, expiring Dec. 31, 2020. Double Up Food Bucks is sponsored statewide by Alliant Energy, Bank of America, ITC Midwest, Iowa Total Care and United Healthcare, as well as the regional support of local partners.