Double Up Food Bucks: A win for Colorado’s families, farmers & communities

LiveWell Colorado increases access to healthy eating and active living by removing barriers that inequitably and disproportionately affect low-income communities and people of color. For more information, please visit livewellcolorado.org.

The Double Up Food Bucks program doubles the value of federal nutrition (SNAP or food stamps) benefits spent at participating markets and food retail stores, helping people bring home more healthy fruits and vegetables while supporting local farmers. The wins are three-fold: more families have access to fruits and vegetables, local farmers gain new customers, and more food dollars stay in the local economy. Watch a story about Double Up on NBC Nightly News.

History

Over the past seven plus years, at least a dozen farmers markets across Colorado have been offering some type of double voucher or incentive program for SNAP participants. All of these programs have incentivized the purchase of locally-grown fruits and vegetables.

One example from Colorado comes from the Boulder County Farmers Market, which has administered the Harvest Bucks program at multiple markets in Boulder County. Boulder SNAP participant survey results show that more than 86 percent of Harvest Bucks participants reported increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and 89 percent reported increasing the variety of fruits and vegetables consumed.

Colorado is modeling this program after the Double Up Food Bucks program initiated by the Fair Food Network in Michigan. The Double Up program began at five farmers markets in Detroit in 2009 and has since grown to more than 150 sites across Michigan and has become a model for communities nationwide. Double Up also expanded to grocery stores in 2013 in one of the first pilots in the nation.

In five years, it has benefited more than 300,000 low-income families who receive SNAP benefits and 1,000 farmers across the country. Double Up has also been at the forefront of innovations in healthy food incentives including spearheading new transaction systems at farmers markets and grocery stores.

The Double Up Model

Double Up is the first statewide incentive program in Colorado to be rolled out with a uniform design, central administration, and local implementation. Similar programs have already proven to be successful in rural, urban, and suburban communities alike across the state. The program is rooted in partnerships—both with local partners and key statewide efforts.

The 2014 Farm Bill included $100 million over five years to support the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grants program, a new national healthy produce effort informed by Double Up’s strong track record in Michigan.

Fair Food Network has translated the Double Up program into a toolkit and is now working with partners from Arizona to Oklahoma to Colorado bring this successful model to more communities. Learn more about Double Up programs nationwide.