What Fair Food Network is Doing During this Crisis
To our Fair Food Network Community,
At Fair Food Network, our work revolves around supporting families with low-income, local farmers, and food entrepreneurs – all of whom are deeply vulnerable as coronavirus continues to penetrate more deeply in our communities.
In the face of this pandemic, our mission to support communities in harnessing the power of food has never felt more fundamental or urgent. And so, we have been summoning all of our creativity to do more in the weeks ahead to ensure we meet the urgent and emergent needs of those we serve.
We wanted to connect with you, our partners, to share what we are doing:
Double Up Food Bucks
Healthy food incentives like Double Up Food Bucks will be even more critical as demand for food assistance intensifies. At some markets, we’re already seeing SNAP sales double. At this time, incentives can generate multiple benefits: They boost families’ limited food dollars; make healthy food within reach; support local farmers; and stimulate our economies during this economic downturn.
In the Michigan Double Up program, we’ve already lifted the $20/day earning cap to provide families increased food dollars. We’re also fast-tracking the onboarding of new retail markets and working with partners to develop new technology that will enable automatic enrollment for new SNAP enrollees in Double Up through their phones, thereby reducing the need for physical cards or tokens. Finally, we’re ramping up marketing efforts to get the word out.
In other states, we’re connecting with local partners and markets to ensure Double Up remains a strong community resource and is keeping pace with increased demand, especially in grocery stores.
Nutrition Incentive Hub
With our partners, we’re supporting the growing national network of nutrition incentive practitioners including healthy food incentives and produce prescriptions. Last week’s national convening moved online as we brought together more than 160 practitioners from across the country.
Moving forward, we are holding weekly virtual convenings to foster shared learning and problem solving; our farmers market and grocery store partners are developing new tools and recommendations for the field; and we are exploring mini-grants to support practitioners in responding to this crisis.
Our Fair Food Fund work investing in food entrepreneurs is also critical. Businesses across the food system from farm to fork are experiencing tremendous economic hardship.
Here, too, we are moving on multiple fronts: We’re aligning resources to support our existing portfolio of businesses and accelerating new investments to support entrepreneurs in pivoting their businesses to maintain food access in the communities they serve.
In addition, we’re launching a collateral fund that can catalyze the release of additional capital by supporting other intermediaries to continuing lending to businesses in their portfolio that do not have the reserves to weather this moment.
It is truly an extraordinary time we are living through, one whose full impact has yet to be fully felt as more fault lines in our society become apparent. Today more than ever, it is important for all of us to do all we can to support those most destabilized.
At Fair Food Network, we are privileged to do this necessary work and deeply appreciative of the partnership with you all that makes it possible.
Please be in touch with any questions and additional ideas.
Be safe, stay healthy, take care.
Oran Hesterman & Kate Krauss
Published April 1, 2020