Double Up Food Bucks helps low-income families eat more fruits and vegetables while supporting American farmers and growing local economies.
Helping more families buy fresh, healthy food from local farmers is a simple yet powerful idea. What began in five Detroit farmers markets in 2009 grew into the first statewide healthy food incentive program and is now a national model for SNAP incentives.
We have continually pushed the field forward, expanding to grocery stores in one of the first pilots in the nation and pioneering new electronic payment technologies.
Double Up is a win/win/win: Low-income families bring home more healthy food, local farmers gain new customers and make more money, and more food dollars stay in the local economy. Each has a positive ripple effect of benefits.
Today, Double Up programs are active in nearly 20 states with funding from public, private, and philanthropic sources. Local partnerships reach more than one million SNAP users in 500+ farmers markets and 200+ grocery and corner stores nationwide.
Where Double Up began.
Double Up began as a small pilot in Detroit and is today a statewide success story. We continue to grow and innovate the program in Michigan to bring healthy food to more families, through more farmers, in more locations.
Double Up has been a quantifiable success.
In 2007, before Double Up began, less than $16,000 in SNAP benefits were distributed at Michigan farmers markets. In 2016, combined SNAP and Double Up distribution at participating Michigan markets exceeded $1.7 million. Today, 90% of Michigan residents live in a county with a Double Up site.
Our work in Michigan has had nationwide ramifications.
Double Up helped inspire and secure bipartisan support for a $100 million incentive grants program established in the 2014 Farm Bill. In 2015 Fair Food Network was awarded a $5.1 million grant—the second largest grant made nationally. This was matched with private funds for a total of nearly $10.4 million to continue growing Double Up in Michigan.
And we’re not stopping there.
We continue to scale the program and test new ideas that can inform the field at large.
- We’re committed to meeting families wherever they shop. More than 200 sites participated in 2016 including farmers markets, mobile markets, farm stands, food share programs, and a variety of grocery outlets including regional chains, independents, and co-ops.
- We’re growing the usage of electronic transaction technologies.
- We’re piloting year-round Double Up programs in farmers markets and grocery stores to reach people beyond the peak growing months.
- We’re expanding and enhancing the Double Up program in Flint, Michigan to help more children and families get the nutritious foods they need.
Double Up’s success remains grounded in partnerships.
This includes partner that bring Double Up to life in their communities as well as key statewide organizations including the Michigan Farmers Market Association, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, and our state SNAP-Ed implementing partners: the Michigan Fitness Foundation and Michigan State University Extension.
How Double Up helped one family during a time of need, and in the process, changed the way they eat forever.
The birthplace of incentives.
Double Up began and remains rooted in farmers markets. With this program, every dollar spent does at least double duty, providing new sales for family farmers and real nutrition assistance, while keeping food dollars circulating in the local economy.
But the benefits run deeper at farmers markets.
Farmers markets provide an anchor of healthy food access in urban and rural communities, fostering positive social interactions and supporting nutrition education. Shoppers report that the quality and selection of produce at the markets is better and the prices the same or lower than where they usually shop. Equally powerful is the value they place on their food dollars supporting local farmers. In Michigan, 90% of Double Up Food Bucks distributed at markets are redeemed.
Today, the Double Up model is active at more than 500 farmers markets nationwide from Western New York to Utah and Arkansas.
Here’s how Double Up works at farmers markets:
- $1 to $1 match on SNAP-eligible purchases (with a consistent cap) that can be spent on any locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
- Incentives can be earned and spent at any participating Double Up farmers market.
- At most markets, Double Up is distributed via branded tokens. Some markets and farm stands use electronic payment technologies.
- Double Up’s uniform design, centrally coordinated across a region, reduces the administrative burden for local partners, freeing them to bring the program to life in their communities.
- Participating markets promote the program, provide regular reporting, and participate in program evaluation.
- Fair Food Network or the local lead provides all the resources needed to successfully implement the program including incentive funding, program tools and templates, and branded marketing materials. They also lead program outreach and external evaluation.
Hear from one farmers market manager on the difference this SNAP incentive program has had for her market.
The next frontier of healthy food incentives.
In the grocery environment, Double Up Food Bucks can be game changer. It distinguishes stores in the marketplace, attracts new customers, boosts the purchasing power of SNAP customers, and encourages store loyalty and repeat visits.
We have been at the forefront of bringing SNAP incentives to grocery stores.
In 2013, Fair Food Network brought its experience with incentives to the grocery setting in one of the first pilots in the nation. Today, the Double Up model is active at more than 200 grocery and corner stores across the country including independents, co-ops, and multi-site operations. States with active Double Up programs include California, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, New Orleans, and New York.
As our work in grocery grows, we’re maintaining our commitment to local food.
Local agriculture remains a key feature of Double Up in all settings. This connection extends Double Up’s economic benefits to mid-sized producers who have the capacity to serve grocery stores and are among the most economically vulnerable segment of the American farming population.
Double Up operates a bit differently in grocery stores than farmers markets, while generating the same wins for families, farmers, and local economies. Here’s how it works in grocery stores:
- $1 to $1 match on locally grown fruits and vegetables paid for with SNAP (with a consistent cap) that can be spent on any fresh produce in that store.
- Different redemption systems have been used including coupons, loyalty cards, automatic deduction, and pre-loaded gift cards.
- Participating stores commit to stocking a diverse selection of locally grown items during the growing season, training staff, adapting point-of-sale technology, providing regular reporting, and participating in program evaluation.
- Fair Food Network or the local lead provides incentive funding as well as designed outreach and in-store marketing materials. They also manage external evaluation.
Double Up usage rates in grocery remain strong.
In Michigan, 37% of Double Up Food Bucks distributed were redeemed at participating stores according to 2015 program evaluation. Participating stores in Kansas and Missouri averaged more than 70% redemption rates and saw produce sales increase 10% during an initial 2015 pilot phase.
Critical to these success has been our close collaboration with the independent grocery trade association AFPD in Michigan, as well as regional chains including SpartanNash in Michigan, Balls Food Stores in Kansas City, and Whole Foods Market among others.
Helping more Americans buy more fresh produce is great from a business perspective and it benefits the community. Hear from a grocery store leader on why they brought Double Up to their stores.
Our investments in good food are getting great results.
Evaluation is a cornerstone of the Double Up program. From annual external evaluations to deeper dives into health or economic impacts, we are committed to rigorous evaluation of our work. Results have informed our program design and implementation, policy discussions, and the development of the Double Up toolkit. See below for 2015 highlights from our flagship program in Michigan.
Families eat more healthy food.
- +90% of Double Up shoppers report eating more fruits and vegetables because of the program
- +60% of farmers market shoppers and 23% of grocery store shoppers report trying new fruits or vegetables
- +52% of grocery shoppers and 60% market shoppers report eating less junk food as a result of Double Up
Farmers get a financial boost.
- +72% of farmers report making more money because of Double Up
- +30% plan to expand the diversity of crops they grow
- 24% have or will put more land into production
- 26% have or will use season extenders
- 12% plan to purchase new equipment & 12% plan to hire more staff
Grocers’ businesses thrive.
- $355K+ Spent in qualifying SNAP and Double Up produce sales at 22 participating grocers
- 91% of grocery shoppers say they will use Double Up again
- 41% of grocery customers report taking more trips to the store because of Double Up
Across The Nation
Click a state for more information
Bring Double Up to Your Community.
Double Up programs are now being implemented by local partners in nearly 20 states reaching more than one million SNAP users in 500+ farmers markets and 200+ grocery and corner stores. The program’s success remains rooted in partnerships including local markets and grocers, as well as leading public, private, and nonprofit organizations.
Double Up is defined by its uniform program design, common brand, and compelling marketing materials. Our experience in Michigan demonstrates that it can be implemented in any community—urban or rural—and any retail environment.
Double Up Toolkit
Double Up is a complete package, quickly adopted and implemented by partners across the nation.
Our program toolkit is backed by multiple years of evaluation and results that demonstrate growth and satisfaction among customers, farmers, market managers, and grocers. It includes all the tools and templates partners need to launch Double Up in their communities—from a robust recordkeeping framework to branded outreach and marketing materials.
Fair Food Network is on-hand to help you get started and ensure your program is a success. We provide individualized coaching, cross-site networking and collaboration, and ongoing insights from our work in Michigan and other Double Up communities.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
“We simply could not launch our SNAP incentive program without Fair Food Network’s support.”
– Katrina Betancourt
Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention