The Kentucky-based Double Dollars program, funded by the Community Farm Alliance (CFA), is now available at the Gray Street Farmers Market. Across the country, farmers markets have launched similar incentive programs to make local food more accessible to low-income customers.
The market, managed by the School of Public Health and Information Sciences in collaboration with the Louisville Metro Department of Health and Wellness, has received $1,500 for the Double Dollars program to benefit individuals receiving government assistance. This program also is available at the Bardstown Road, Phoenix Hill and newly-opened South Point farmers markets in Louisville.
The Double Dollars program matches spending by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) customers dollar for dollar up to $20 and aims to make shopping at farmers markets more affordable. For example, if a resident uses a SNAP card to make a $10 purchase, the program will match that $10, giving a new total of $20 to spend on healthy, locally grown produce and other products.
“Public health is about creating conditions under which people can be healthy, and that is why we organize the weekly Gray Street Farmers Market,” said Craig Blakely, PhD, MPH, dean, UofL SPHIS. “Farmers markets bring fresh, healthy foods into our neighborhoods. Our market has accepted SNAP benefits and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Vouchers since 2010 and we are thankful to be recipients of the Double Dollars funding that will make healthy choices more affordable and accessible to members of our community.”
Using the program is simple. Patrons visit the market information booth, decide how much they want to spend, and swipe their SNAP cards. The market then matches the dollar amount and gives the individual wooden tokens to make their purchases. Households can use Double Dollars to buy food intended to be prepared and eaten at home such as breads, fruits and vegetables, honeys and jams, and meat and poultry.
On the first day of the Double Dollars program at the Gray Street Farmers Market, four people doubled their SNAP benefits by an average of $15 per household. At this market, seniors who benefit from Kentucky’s Senior Nutrition Farmers Market program also received supplemental funds with the Double Dollars program.
The efforts of the Gray Street Farmers market has been recognized by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Office, which recently coordinated a special event to showcase the importance of Double Dollars and the city’s farmers markets. Learn more about Louisville’s local food movement.
See also: Food stamps worth double at some farmers markets (Courier-Journal, Aug. 13, 2016)