DUFB Summer 2012 Launch: Grand Rapids Edition

As summer’s bounty of farm-fresh produce continues to fill market stands, Fair Food Network (FFN) celebrated the third year of its Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program in the Kent County area. One month after the Detroit launch at Eastern Market, FFN staff traveled west to Grand Rapids’ Fulton Street Farmers’ Market. Under a steady rainfall, a welcomed respite from the summer drought, we arrived at the oldest and largest market in Grand Rapids to greet DUFB customers and show appreciation for local community partners and supporters.

Just before the celebration, DUFB introduced an exciting development to provide even more low-income Michigan families with greater access to fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables. A new electronic payment method has replaced the token system at 11 of the 16 Grand Rapids area markets and an additional 14 sites through the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids’ Veggie Van, West Michigan’s first and only mobile farmers’ market. At these locations, Bridge Card purchases are matched dollar-for-dollar up to $20 on a DUFB Market Card, pictured below, which can be used to buy Michigan-grown produce.

Kent County DUFB Card

The event showcased the intricate network of community partners bolstering the program’s expansion. FFN CEO and President Oran Hesterman added, “New, exciting partnerships and an electronic mobile payment pilot project will enable us to take the program to the next level, reaching more communities and households in need.” FFN is a member of the Food and Nutrition Coalition (FNC), a subcommittee of Kent County’s Essential Needs Task Force “working to ensure that all people of Kent County have access to safe, affordable, and nutritious food.” Coalition members from Kent County Department of Human Services, Kent County Health Department, the Salvation Army Booth Family Services, and the YMCA Farmers Market showed their support at the event, and worked the DUFB interactive map to show how the coalition connects area residents to MI produce.

Later, Silver Spork Gourmet Food Truck owner Molly Clauhs, pictured below, brightened the rainy day with her “Taste of DUFB” Cooking Demo. Alongside her mother, also a chef, Molly created a beautiful panzanella salad with heirloom tomatoes, mojito mint, and basil. The dreary weather couldn’t hide the vibrant colors of the dish as market shoppers eagerly scooped up the local feature.

Molly Clauhs
Silver Spork’s Molly Clauhs creating panzanella
for a Taste of DUFB cooking demo.

The day brought supporters from far and wide, including Allen Street Farmers’ (Lansing) Market Manager Hollie Hamel, who was thrilled to share in the festivities. Relationships with individuals such as Hollie and local foundations such as the Grand Rapids Community Foundation are what keeps DUFB growing, and we thank them and the 40 other private and public partnerships state and nationwide for their ongoing support.

DUFB will be back in Kent County next month for FNC’s Hunger Action Week. On Thursday, September 6th from 5-7pm DUFB staff will participate in the “Healthy Food Cook Off” at United Church Outreach Ministry (1311 Chicago Dr. SW, Wyoming). Guest chefs will create entrees using pantry food items and produce from the YMCA farmers market purchased on a DUFB budget. A week later, on September 13, we’ll hit the road again for Farmers’ Market at the Capitol in Lansing. See you there!