Double Up Food Bucks Supporters Call on State Legislators to Ensure Program Can Meet Demand in 2023 Through Additional Funding in Supplemental Budget
1 Dec. 2022 | ANN ARBOR, Mich.–State senators Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville) and Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), along with Fair Food Network and other supporting organizations, are calling on their fellow state legislators to support Double Up Food Bucks (Double Up), by approving additional funding via the state’s supplemental budget. Double Up is a vital program for Michigan farmers, grocers, and residents who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The program helps people using SNAP purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables through a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $10 a day.
As families experiencing poverty struggle to put healthy food on the table, Double Up makes healthy food choices more within reach. Demand for Fair Food Network’s program continues to climb for Michiganders – usage of the program is up 212% since 2019. With such a rise in the use of the program, Double Up instituted a temporary pause at participating grocery stores – excluding all Flint locations – from August 1 to December 31, 2022. This move helps Fair Food Network conserve necessary funding for the program in 2023.
“As Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and as a farmer, I have seen the positive impact that the Double Up program has had on Michigan families and on our agriculture industry,” said State Senator Roger Victory (R-Hudsonville). “As our hardworking families continue to struggle with the rising cost of groceries, it is disappointing that the Double Up benefit needs to be paused, especially during the holiday season. I strongly encourage the administration and the legislature to quickly pass a supplemental for Double Up that will appropriately fund the program to meet the growing demand and ensure Michigan families can keep healthy and local produce on their tables.”
“Families across every community in Michigan are able to eat healthier and sell more of the fruits and vegetables they grow thanks to Double Up Food Bucks,” said Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing). “Public and private sector partners are working together to ensure access to nutrition through Double Up during a time of unprecedented need for nutritional food.”
Should the program receive additional funding before the end of the year through the state of Michigan’s supplemental budget, Fair Food Network will lift the program pause and help more people using SNAP take advantage of the program during the holidays. Any negotiations for a supplemental budget could take place through the end of the current legislative session, which will adjourn before the Christmas holiday.
“We are actively engaging with the legislature, the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, and the executive branch in the hopes to secure additional state funding to avoid a program pause during the next holiday season. This is the time of year when the demand for fruits and vegetables at grocery stores is at its highest,” commented Nathan Medina, Senior Manager of State Policy at Fair Food Network.
Double Up Food Bucks is matched with $2 of USDA and philanthropic funds for every $1 appropriated by the state. All state funds are spent on purchasing fruits and vegetables. Administrative costs are funded by the private sector thanks to the fundraising efforts of Fair Food Network.
Double Up was piloted by Fair Food Network in Detroit in 2009 and it has since become a national model for nutrition incentive programs. The program is a triple win: more healthy food for families, better business for farmers, and a boost for local economies. Today, Double Up is offered in more than 250 locations across Michigan. Usage of the program prior to the pause reached 326,447 Michigan households using SNAP, helping families stretch their monthly food budget and afford more fruits and vegetables during a time with record rates of inflation on grocery items.
In addition to helping families bring home healthy food, participating grocery stores are required to increase their purchasing of Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables in order to maintain their eligibility. Local produce sales also benefit farmers who participate in Double Up, 90% sold more fruits and vegetables, and 85% made more money in 2021. Greater sales provide a boost to Michigan farmers, particularly for those just starting out. With additional revenue, some farmers have been able to expand their production and buy or lease new equipment.
“Michigan’s farmers work hard to provide a healthy, nutritious, wholesome, and affordable supply of food for all Michiganders. The Double Up Food Bucks program enhances the ability to reach the nutritional needs of all Michigan families, especially with inflation squeezing the budgets of SNAP users,” said Loren Koeman, Lead Economist and Manager of Michigan Farm Bureau’s Industry, Conservation, and Regulatory Relations Department.
For more information about the program and find a location near you, visit DoubleUpFoodBucks.org.