Houston’s Urban Harvest Awarded Rebuild Texas Grant

January 23, 2019
Source: Patch (Houston, Texas)
Author: Bryan Kirk

HOUSTON — Urban Harvest, considered a local mover and shaker in the urban farmer’s market movement, has received a $347,000 grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund.

The grant will be used to implement Double Up Houston program, a regional SNAP incentive program used at 19 participating farmers markets and farm stands across the Houston area, officials said in a press release Thursday.

“Urban Harvest is excited to lead this collaborative effort to uniquely address our region’s food insecurity, making both our communities and food sources more accessible and resilient,” said Janna Roberson, Urban Harvest Executive Director.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, offers nutrition assistance to over 637,000 low-income individuals in Harris County, and increases food access for communities in need.

Thew Double Up Houston program connects SNAP recipients to farmers markets and fresh, local food across the region, and gives shoppers the purchasing power for fresh fruits and vegetables while supporting Houston-area growers.

When shoppers spend their SNAP benefits at participating farmers markets, they receive a dollar-for-dollar match up to $20 a day that they can spend on local produce, so they can bring home $40 worth of healthy food for just $20.

With program partners Houston Food Bank, Houston Health Department, Texas Hunger Initiative, and Fair Food Network, Urban Harvest will roll out the first phase of the Double Up program in April 2019 to 11 farmers markets and farm stands that currently accept SNAP benefits.

“We are grateful for the work of our partners in helping to make this new initiative possible,” Roberson added.

Urban Harvest will also work with Common Market and the Northeast Next Door Redevelopment Council to create a new, SNAP-based farmers market in Northeast Houston, officials announced.

This market, which will address food insecurity in the area, is expected to open in the fall of 2019.

In total, Urban Harvest and its partners expect to serve 2,000 food-insecure families at these 19 farmers markets and farm stands, 16 of which are located in neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The hope is that local growers and farmers will gain new customers and sell more produce, with participating farms projected to see a 30 percent increase in sales.

First published in Patch (Houston), on January 17, 2019.