Great idea: doubling food-stamp dollars at farmers markets

Here’s a government program that, for once, Just Makes Sense.  In Michigan, the Double Up Food Bucks program matches SNAP (food stamp) dollars up to $20 per person at farmers markets.  When the customer arrives at the market they cash in $20 worth of SNAP funds and receive $40 worth of credit to spend around the market.  The USDA has funded $31 million worth of grants to support programs like this around the country as part of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program in last year’s Farm Bill; these grants are often leveraged to attract matching funds from private donations.

So lower-income people get access to more healthy food and local farms have an expanded customer base.  As reported in The Christian Science Monitor

“I make more money, I expand my business, and then I can hire more people,” farmer Vicki Zilke said. “If I hire more people I then improve the bottom line of my community. It’s a ripple effect.”

“I saw all these features in place,” said Oral Hesterman, CEO of Fair Food Network, the local organization that stared the program. “Really ingredients for what I thought would be a really successful SNAP incentive program. The fact that we now see this national funding program from the USDA is really a testament to the legislative process. . . . It’s a bright spot in the world of sustainable food and healthy food access.”

To which we say, “hip hip!”  Well done.

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