Earlier today, USDA announced the results of the Healthy Incentives Pilot (HIP) and additional efforts to empower low-income families with the knowledge and skills they need to purchase and prepare healthy foods using SNAP benefits. To make the announcement, Secretary Vilsack conducted a call with Dr. Oran Hesterman, President and CEO of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Fair Food Network. Read more about Dr. Hesterman’s work and Fair Food Network’s project to improve SNAP recipients’ access to locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables in metropolitan Detroit below.
by Oran Hesterman, Ph.D. President and CEO, Fair Food Network
Double Up Food Bucks, the successful program initiated by Fair Food Network to provide healthy, fresh produce to low-income families while also supporting local farmers, has expanded its reach from farmers’ markets to grocery stores. Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) doubles the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits—also known food stamps—when used for fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables at nearly 100 farmers’ markets across Michigan. This 90 second video shows you exactly how this program works.
In 2012, Fair Food Network received a special waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the first of its kind in the country, to bring its model program into three grocery stores in Detroit to make purchasing healthy fruits and vegetables even more accessible to thousands of new customers in underserved communities. During the trial period of July 1 to October 31, this innovative grocery pilot will enable recipients who spend at least $10 on produce items using a Bridge Card (Michigan’s SNAP card) to get a DUFB Reward Card good for another $10 of Michigan-grown produce.
The full service markets participating in this program are Metro Foodland, Mike’s Fresh Market on Gratiot and Honey Bee Market. Excitement over the initiation of this program is captured in an interview that I did with WDIV Detroit’s during the launch of this program.
As I said at the time, Fair Food Network is working in partnership with UpLift Solutions and with the cooperation of the Michigan Department of Human Services to continue building a scalable model program that can be replicated in other locations. Strong collaboration across sectors between Fair Food Network and government agencies, businesses, and individuals has provided the important glue that has set this program on an upward trajectory.
Financial backing for the DUFB grocery pilot is provided by the AFPD Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, McGregor Fund, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Kresge Foundation and Bank of America Charitable Foundation.
Double Up Food Bucks began in 2009 at five farmers’ markets in Detroit. Customers have since visited dozens of participating markets over 100,000 times, spending $3.5 million in combined SNAP benefits and incentive dollars for healthful, fresh foods from local producers.
We are excited to provide the opportunity for more people to make healthy food choices and have access to the freshest, local produce that Michigan farmers can offer.