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. Double Up matches the value of SNAP (formerly known as food stamps) when spent on fruits and vegetables with a financial benefit to local growers. 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 incentive technologies.
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 sales at participating farmers markets and grocery stores exceeded $1.9 million. Today, 92% 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. 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, 92% of Double Up Food Bucks distributed at farmers markets are redeemed.
Today the Double Up model is active at nearly 500 farmers markets, farms stands, and CSAs 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.
Dig deeper into Double Up’s nationwide impact in our Double Up National Overview.
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. Through local partnerships in 13 states and growing, the Double Up model can be found at a variety of retail outlets in small towns and big cities.
Double Up is a win in grocery stores.
- In Michigan, 80% of all Double Up Food Bucks earned by SNAP customers at participating SpartanNash stores were redeemed in 2016.
- After launching Double Up, produce sales at regional chain Lowe’s were up 25% in its Santa Fe, New Mexico store.
- At Harps in Arkansas, store produce sales increased by 50% during a one month pilot.
- Michigan produce sales jumped 34% between 2015 and 2016 at a sample of 12 participating independent stores.
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:
- $1 to $1 match on produce purchases paid for with SNAP (with a consistent cap).
- 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.
Critical to such success has been our close collaboration with independent grocery trade associations and participating grocery partners including AFPD and SpartanNash in Michigan, Balls Food Stores in Kansas City, and Whole Foods Market, among others.
For more information on our grocery program nationwide, download our Double Up Grocery Overview.
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. Results have informed program design and implementation, policy, and the development of the Double Up toolkit. See below for 2016 highlights from our flagship program in Michigan.
Families eat more healthy food.
- SNAP recipients shop more often and eat more produce when Double Up is in place; farmers market shoppers who buy produce six or more times per month increased by 97%.
- Initial findings from a 2016 study with grocery partner SpartanNash indicate that produce accounts for more of Double Up shoppers’ baskets than other store shoppers.
- Double Up is reaching those most in need with 63% of shoppers low or very low food security.
- The majority of Double Up shoppers at farmers markets and grocery stores are confident in meal planning and food preparation knowledge and skills.
Farmers get a financial boost.
- 1,000+ farmers benefit annually; 36% are beginning farmers.
- More than half of participating farmers say they are making more money, gaining new customers, and selling more produce.
- Other farmer benefits include diversifying what they grow, purchasing new equipment, putting more land into production, and hiring more staff.
Grocers’ businesses thrive.
- From 2015 to 2016, we doubled the number of participating grocery stores to 50.
- Double Up is boosting local produce sales. Michigan produce sales jumped 34% between 2015 and 2016 at a sample of 12 participating independent stores across the state
- In 2016, 80% of all Double Up Food Bucks earned by SNAP customers at participating SpartanNash stores were redeemed.
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 more than 20 states. The program’s success remains rooted in partnerships including local markets and grocers, as well as leading public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Download our Double Up National Overview to learn more.
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 retail environment and any community—urban or rural.
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.
“We simply could not launch our SNAP incentive program without Fair Food Network’s support.”
– Katrina Betancourt
Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention