Double Up Food Bucks
As a Program Ambassador, Neil provides community education about Double Up Food Bucks at participating grocery stores and farmers markets in Western Michigan. He explains how the program works to community members and shoppers, helping them to better understand how Double Up can help stretch their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) food dollars to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. He increases program awareness and provides valuable guidance to new customers navigating the program.
Neil grew up in Valparaiso, in the dune land area of Northwest Indiana, along the South Shore of Lake Michigan. Gaining experience in restaurants and hotels through high school and college, he finished with a bachelor’s degree in food and hospitality management from Ball State University with additional studies in philosophy, sustainability, and environmental ethics. Once he graduated, he did what any respectable young professional might do in a recession…sell headstones. Neil traveled throughout Indiana and Southwest Michigan working in just about every cemetery.
After an opportunity opened in his hometown to work at the local brewery, Neil spent ten years in the brewing industry, traveling from edge to edge of Indiana (also known as Michigan’s boot). In those ten years, he built connections and relationships working with wholesale beer accounts, liquor stores, grocery chain management, and locally sourced pubs, and restaurants.
In the middle of the pandemic, he found the love of his life, became “smitten with the mitten” and moved to Marshall, Michigan with his partner Becca. This Hoosier turned Michigander can often be found writing his next book, fooling around in the garden, experimenting with his weekly CSA produce, or planning his next hiking trip somewhere in the pleasant peninsula.