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Double Up Food Bucks Program celebrates access to healthy food in Michigan since 2009

WKAR-MSU

The Double Up Food Bucks program has been expanding for thousands of Michiganders on food stamps for fifteen years. The Fair Food Network piloted the program in 2009 at five markets in Detroit by allowing individuals to buy fruits and vegetables at half the cost.

Since then, Double Up Food Bucks has expanded to over 200 locations across Michigan. The Fair Food Network partners with the state’s Supplemental Food Assistance Program to match dollar for dollar purchases made for fruits and vegetables at participating program locations.

“It's a boom. It helps more people buy produce and as a farmer that's a great thing and as a customer… I'm sure every little bit helps,” said Tom Cary, Meridian Township Farmer’s Market Manager.

From 2019 to 2022, usage of the program soared by 212%, but the increase in demand forced program administrators to cap the amount of money that could be matched. In 2023, food stamp recipients were only able to double their purchases up to $10 per day for fruits and vegetables, impacting nearly 4,500 households in mid-Michigan. Today, the cap has been increased to $20 per day. Program administrators said the increase was made possible by an $8.5 million grant to the Fair Food Network.

“This flush of new funding makes a huge difference to the moms and dads working multiple jobs, trying to put fruits and vegetables on the table for their kids. It helps seniors on a budget make sure they have enough nutritious food in their diet to stay healthy,” said Kate Krauss, CEO at Fair Food Network.

Support for the program comes from a combination of public and private funders with the USDA being the largest public funder.

In 2023, nearly 4500 households in the area benefited from the Double Up Food Bucks program.

“It's always good to have that extra money to spend on fruits and vegetables and I think accessing it at the farmers market is even more convenient,” said East Lansing Farmer’s Market Manager Karla Forrest-Hewitt. “The money goes directly to the farmers and you get the most fresh, most nutritionally valuable.”

In the mid-Michigan region, the program is available at 19 sites including independent grocery stores, farmers markets and one farm stand. Find a participating location in your area here.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community.
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