Double Up Spotlight: Genevia Harvey

Genevia Harvey has a unique perspective on the SNAP incentive program Double Up Food Bucks as both a shopper and a farm vendor.

Genevia is a born and raised Mississippian. She currently lives in the city of Gulfport along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. After retiring ten years ago, she had to go on disability and needed help from SNAP to make ends meet. She currently gets $53 a month in nutrition assistance benefits.

This year Genevia found out she could double her food benefits to bring home more fresh produce with Double Up Food Bucks. Double Up launched at farmers markets, brick and mortar farm stands, and grocery stores across Mississippi this year. While the coronavirus delayed the opening of some markets, all sites planned for program launch were up and running by early July.

Genevia first heard about Double Up at the Gulfport Harbor Farmers Market and the Ocean Springs Fresh Market farmers markets where she helps out at her brother in law’s farm stand every Wednesday and Saturday. The farm sells a variety of vegetables from collard greens and cabbages to tomatoes and cucumbers.

The farm is selling more this year than ever as many folks remain wary of returning to big box stores during the coronavirus. Indeed, across the nation, local food sales have boomed in recent months as many shoppers prefer the outdoor venue and direct connection with growers that farmers markets provide. “When I see people who use EBT and I tell them about Double Up Food Bucks, they get excited,” she said. “It’s a good thing.”

While Double Up has only been up and running for two months, it has already changed the way Genevia shops. “I don’t go to the store anymore; I can get everything I need at the market,” she said. “It’s definitely helping.”

For Genevia, this is a return to her roots. She grew up in the country with a big vegetable garden, which was the source of much of her family’s food. As a mother and grandmother, Genevia knows the importance of healthy food. “It’s so important that kids eat vegetables. It’s what they really need in their bodies.” She hopes Double Up helps makes that possible for more Mississippi families while also supporting local farmers.