Double Up Food Bucks Launches to Provide More Fresh, Locally Grown Produce to Low-Income Oregonians

Katie Furia, Program Manager, Farmers Market Fund
Publish Date: 
Summer 2016
VolNo: 
Vol. XI No. 3

Farmers Market Fund (http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org/programs-and-services/snap-participants/), an independent 501(c)3 companion organization to Portland Farmers Market (http://www.portlandfarmersmarket.org) has launched Double Up Food Bucks. This new statewide program provides cash incentives to low-income Oregonians who receive benefits through SNAP (http://www.oregon.gov/dhs/assistance/food-benefits/pages/index.aspx) for purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and through community supported agriculture (CSA).

Trudy Toliver, Executive Director of the Farmers Market Fund, said, “Double Up Food Buckswill help to feed Oregonians in two ways: by putting food on the table for low-income families, and supporting Oregon’s family farms. It improves the human health and the economic health of our local communities.”

Starting in May, Double Up Food Bucksis benefitting 51 farmers markets, managed by 38 different organizations across Oregon, serving rural and urban communities. The markets are located in the Portland metropolitan area, the Willamette Valley, the North Coast, Central Oregon, Southern Oregon, and Eastern Oregon. The population in the beneficiary counties totals 3.5 million people, representing approximately 90 percent of the state’s overall population.The program is funded by a $500,000 grant from the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program and $1 million in matching funds from local foundations, corporations and the farmers markets themselves. “This grant earned by the Farmers Market Fund ensures that thousands more low-income Oregonians can get tasty and healthy food at farmers markets throughout Oregon,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. “I have been proud to support our farmers markets’ goal of increasing access to quality food because that both helps fight food insecurity statewide for working families and benefits local growers of fruits and vegetables.”

How Double Up Food BucksWorks

SNAP benefits are distributed through the Oregon Trail Card, an electronic benefits-transfer card similar to a debit card. Most farmers markets process SNAP transactions at market information booths, debiting the Oregon Trail Card in exchange for $1 tokens that shoppers can use at vendor stalls. Double Up Food Bucksincreases the buying power of SNAP recipients by providing a dollar-for-dollar cash match up to $10 to purchase fruits and vegetables at 51 participating markets.

The SNAP matching programs have helped Oregon families around the state eat more fresh produce over the past several years. However, most programs matched only up to $5 and each operated under different rules. Double Up Food Bucks is raising the match to $10 and providing a recognizable brand with uniform rules for all 51 markets. This launch furthers Farmers Market Fund’s mission to increase access to fresh local food for low income and underserved populations.

This statewide program increases the number of participating farmers markets and boosts data collection on the impact these programs have on increasing the amount of local fruits and vegetables purchased. In a 2015 SNAP customer survey at the markets slated for the Double Up Food Bucksprogram, 92% of the 628 SNAP shoppers surveyed reportedpurchasing more fruits and vegetables as a result of the match.

One shopper who has used the SNAP match said, “Every cent counts - having a little extra help means that I can get more fresh fruit and veggies. It also helps my community, around my neighborhood and local farms. I can maximize my money and health.”

The Double Up Food Bucks program goals aim to reach even more shoppers:

  • Increase the number of SNAP recipients redeeming their benefits at participating farmers markets by at least 25 percent from 2014.
  • Increase sales of fruits and vegetables at Oregon farmers markets purchased through SNAP by $790,000 over 2014 levels.

Impressive Statewide Support

As a requirement of the USDA grant application, the Farmers Market Fund team needed 100 percent local matching funds from foundations and partners. Support for the proposal garnered pledges of cash and in-kind support from about 50 partners, totaling more than twice the matching funds required.

The largest pledge of $175,000 came from the Meyer Memorial Trust. “Meyer Memorial Trust’s support for this program, coupled with investments in the state’s food system landscape totalling $3.4 million since 2012, helps to broaden the reach of the Double Up Food Bucks program,” said Doug Stamm, Meyer Memorial Trust’s CEO. “Doubling the impact of dollars spent at farmers markets improves access and health for consumers with limited incomes.”

Long-time Farmers Market Fund supporter New Seasons Market pledged $90,000 to the program. This follows eight years and about $250,000 of ongoing financial support they have provided to farmers market for SNAP matching and other family friendly programs. Their foundational and loyal backing nurtured the budding of Farmers Market Fund and many other farmers market’s SNAP incentive programs.

“New Seasons Market is committed to ensuring that healthy, local foods are available to everyone. We are pleased to support the Farmers Market Fund as they provide much-needed resources to farmers markets in Oregon. We believe that farmers markets are a crucial component in our regional food economy. Using these funds toward matching SNAP dollars benefits not only food insecure families and individuals, but also our small farmers,” said Wendy Collie, New Seasons Market CEO.

Other key funders and supporters include Kaiser Permanente Hospitals, Portland Farmers Market, Oregon Food Bank, and numerous farmers markets and food systems organizations around the state.

For more information, contact: Katie Furia, Program Manager for Oregon Double Up Food Bucks, Farmers Market Fund, 503.241.0032