Fair Food Network Receives $5.1M to Scale up Successful Program Benefitting Low-Income Families & Farmers

APRIL 1, 2015 | ANN ARBOR, Mich.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow hails Double Up Food Bucks as “innovative partnership"
Quotations of support from Michigan leaders follow this release
Fair Food Network announced today that it received $5.1 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand Double Up Food Bucks, Michigan’s statewide healthy food incentive program that simultaneously increases access to healthy food for low-income Americans and puts more money in the pockets of family farmers.
The grant, provided by the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grants program, will be matched with private funds for a total of nearly $10.4 million.
The funds will be used to better serve participants on SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) by expanding the program to more farmers markets and grocery store locations across Michigan and supporting new technology and other innovations.
“We’ve proven that Double Up successfully boosts family nutrition and farmer earnings,” said Oran Hesterman, president and CEO of Fair Food Network and a former farmer, agronomist, and leader in philanthropy. “With this funding, we’ll reach even more people, supporting healthy food environments and resilient rural and urban communities.”
Partners in other states, including Utah and Oregon, also received FINI funding to launch their own Double Up programs with assistance from Fair Food Network.

“Michigan is leading the way”
The Double Up program matches the value of SNAP purchases made at participating sites with additional dollars to spend on fresh, regionally grown produce. For instance, a family that spends $10 in SNAP benefits at a participating farmers market or grocery store receives an additional $10 in Double Up Food Bucks to purchase Michigan grown fruits and vegetables.
The positive impacts are three-fold: low-income families have increased access to and eat more healthy food, regional farmers gain new customers and make more money, and more food dollars stay in the local economy.
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan was a strong advocate for establishing a federal SNAP incentive grants program. The FINI program is just one example of ways that Congress and USDA are promoting healthier, less processed food.
“Projects like Double Up will improve the lives of many more families because of the hard work of Sen. Stabenow in forging bipartisan agreement and the efficient and responsive roll out by USDA,” Hesterman said.
“The Double Up program helps families stretch their food budget to buy fruits and vegetables while supporting Michigan’s farmers,” Sen. Stabenow said. “It’s this type of innovative partnership that I fought to include in the Farm Bill. I am so proud that Michigan is leading the way. With this new support, the Fair Food Network will continue their great work and I look forward to working closely with them as they get the Double Up program in more farmers markets and grocery stores throughout the state.” 
In addition to growing the program’s presence at farmers markets, Fair Food Network will use the combined $10 million to:
  • Bring Double Up to more grocery locations (up to 50) by 2018. Fair Food Network has led the nation in expanding incentives beyond farmers markets to groceries, where families shop most often.
  • Expand the network of farmers markets that use mobile processing (up to 50). Most programs currently use a token system.
  • Pilot year-round rather than seasonal programming at up to 40 farmers markets and five grocery locations.
Double Up’s proven model: Innovate, evaluate, replicate
Since 2009, Double Up has expanded from five farmers markets in Detroit to more than 150 sites across Michigan, benefitting more than 300,000 low-income families and more than 1,000 farmers. A study of Double Up’s first five years found:
  • More than 90 percent of SNAP recipients at farmers markets report eating more fruits and vegetables because of Double Up; more than 80 percent report buying fewer high-fat snacks.
  • Of the 1,000+ farmers that participated in 2013, 90 percent report selling more fruits and vegetables, and 85 percent report making more money.
Michigan is now number three in the nation for SNAP use at farmers markets, and the top state in the Midwest Region.
“We’re working to make Michigan healthier, and that includes improving access to locally grown fruit and vegetables,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “Fair Food Network has an innovative plan that helps people make good decisions, but also helps our farmers and our economy.”
Fair Food Network continues to innovate. Double Up is the first incentive program to operate statewide (Michigan is the 9th most populous state and 11th largest geographically in the country). Its uniform design and central administration make implementation and evaluation easy for markets of all shapes and sizes in rural, urban, and suburban communities alike.
The program’s success is rooted in partnerships with local markets, statewide networks, state agencies, and other organizations. Partners include AARP Foundation, AFPD, Detroit Eastern Market Corporation, Detroit Lions NFL Team, Farmers Market Coalition, Food Bank Council of Michigan, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Department of Community Health, Michigan Department of Human Services, Michigan Farm Bureau, Michigan Farmers Market Association, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan State University, and MOSES, among others. A complete list of partners and funders can be found at doubleupfoodbucks.org/partners.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has been a longtime supporter of Double Up Food Bucks.
“When you boost access to healthy food for children and families and simultaneously fortify local farm economies, you’ve got a winning solution,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the foundation.
Support for Double Up Food Bucks from Michigan Leaders
“With such an abundance and variety of produce grown in West Michigan, it’s important to make sure everyone has access to nutritious options. Double Up Food Bucks is an innovative program that makes the option of eating healthy a reality for everyone in the community. This program ensures access to fresh and locally grown fruits and vegetables when they would otherwise be unaffordable to those in need throughout West Michigan.”
Rep. Bill Huizenga (MI-2-R)
“This federal grant is great news for Michigan families, Michigan farmers, and Michigan’s economy. Expanding successful programs like the Double Up Food Bucks program pumps millions of dollars into our local economy and also supports family farmers who come to sell their locally-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets across the state. In Congress, I’ve worked with the Fair Food Network to expand access to locally grown and fresh produce for families, including getting additional investments for local farmers markets across Michigan. Every family, no matter where they live, should have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Rep. Dan Kildee (MI-5-D)
“This kind of program can boost revenues for local farmers and put healthy food on local kitchen tables. Double Up Food Bucks is taking the mission of locally grown food to the next level in Michigan.”
Dan Carmody, President, Detroit Eastern Market
“Double Up Food Bucks is an innovative and replicable program that is making a real difference for low-income rural and urban residents. By increasing the opportunity to eat fresh, nutritious produce, Double Up is supporting healthy families and healthy communities across Michigan.”
Dr. Phillip Knight, Executive Director, Food Bank Council of Michigan
“Having access to fresh fruits and vegetables is key to maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Double Up Food Bucks is a great example of how innovation can help improve the health and wellness of our residents by making the healthy choice the easy choice."
Nick Lyon, Director, Michigan Department of Community Health and Interim Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services
“Everything about Double Up Food Bucks makes good sense for Michigan. It is the right thing to do for Michigan families who have fallen on hard times but still want to support locally grown foods. Michigan farmers produce a tremendously diverse crop that is sold in our local grocery stores and at farmers markets all across the state. The Double Up Food Bucks program encourages healthy eating and provides an incentive to keep Michigan dollars in Michigan. From our perspective as the state’s largest farm organization, giving those in need increased opportunity to take advantage of this bounty is just the right thing to do for Michigan families and the State of Michigan.”
Carl Bednarski, President, Michigan Farm Bureau
“Working with Fair Food Network to implement and expand its Double Up Food Bucks program has been a natural extension of our efforts to increase access to fresh, healthy foods through farmers markets. By expanding the purchasing power of low-income consumers, Double Up offers the opportunity to buy and eat more nutritious, Michigan grown fruits and vegetables while at the same time boosting farmer profitability. Federal funding for this innovative and proven program that works for families and farmers is a meaningful investment with transformative potential for our regional food system.”
Dru Montri, Director, Michigan Farmers Market Association
“Double Up Food Bucks equips families to do what SNAP-Ed teaches – to eat more fruits and vegetables – by increasing the affordability of this healthy behavior. The synergy between behavioral incentive programs like Double Up and nutrition education provided by Michigan Fitness Foundation and our SNAP-Ed partners statewide has exciting potential. By working together, we can even double our impact!”
Marci Kelly Scott, PhD, RDN, Vice President of Health Programs, Michigan Fitness Foundation 
“Double Up Food Bucks is creating healthy food environments that increase access to and promote healthier eating among low-income consumers while benefiting Michigan farmers. Michigan State University Extension is thrilled to help expand the reach and benefit of this proven program through our statewide network of SNAP-Ed direct nutrition educators, Community Food System work teams, and Agriculture educators.”
Dawn Contreras, Ph.D., Health and Nutrition Institute Director, Michigan State University Extension
"By increasing access and affordability to nutritious food, Double Up is tackling one of the most complex problems we face and in the process supporting strong families and thriving communities across the state."
Eric Davis, Vice President of Child and Family Wellbeing, United Way for Southeastern Michigan
“Shoppers at the YMCA Veggie Van love Double Up Food Bucks. They are grateful for the chance to stretch their food budgets to buy food that truly nourishes their families. Best of all, both families and our local growers win.”
Julie Sielawa, Executive Director of Community Outreach, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids
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Fair Food Network is a national nonprofit dedicated to growing the good for a more just and sustainable food system. With a diverse network of partners, we pioneer solutions that support farmers, strengthen local economies, and increase access to healthy food—especially in our most underserved communities. Headquartered in Michigan, our programs create on-the-ground impact, serve as replicable models, and spur public policy change. And we bring people together to generate ideas, share resources, and inform policy to reinvigorate regional food economies. Dig deeper at fairfoodnetwork.org and doubleupfoodbucks.org and join us on Facebook and Twitter @FairFoodNetwork and @OHesterman.