Double-up Food Bucks Renewed After Pause

Low-income families will benefit from restored funding in the Double-Up Food Bucks program. Last year, the Fair Food Network, which sponsors the program, needed to reduce its spending to keep the program solvent. In January, there were sufficient funds to return the program to $10 in daily matches, and now it’s up to $20, due to an influx of state, federal, and philanthropic funds.

The innovative program, which began in Michigan, provides an incentive for shoppers who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Simply put, customers buy what they need and get matching funds to buy it again. In many cases, these matching dollars not only encourage people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but it helps families pay for other essentials like utilities and housing. It also supports Michigan farmers, who are able to sell more of their produce. 18 million pounds of produce from 1,000 Michigan farmers is sold through the Double-Up Food Bucks program each year.

Piloted in Detroit in 2009, the program is now a national model offered in more than 250 locations in Michigan and more than 900 locations throughout the nation. This is an example of an innovative social enterprise that has proven its value from a health and economic standpoint.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.