Farm market FSMA

Oct 4, 2019
Michigan approves $1M for needy families to spend at farm markets

Michigan taxpayers are sending more dollars for needy families to buy fruits and vegetables.

Michigan House and Senate approved $1 million for the healthy food incentive program Double Up Food Bucks in the state 2020 budget that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed.

That million dollars comes in addition to a $2 million one-time appropriation provided in June, according to the nonprofit group Fair Food Network. State support is leveraging federal and private funding, bringing additional dollars to Michigan.

Double Up matches SNAP dollars spent on fresh fruits and vegetables. SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Fair Food Network said its benefits are three-fold: a win for state farmers selling more produce; a win for low-income families putting more healthy food on their tables; and a win for local businesses and economies.

“Michiganders are proud of Double Up for good reason – it is a creative solution that provides real economic benefits for Michigan farmers while improving healthy food access for our lowest-income families,” Kate Krauss, executive director and chief operating officer of Fair Food Network, said in a press release. “We’re lucky to have lawmakers who champion innovative ways to make a real difference for people in their districts.”

This funding will support growth of the Double Up program to additional counties across the state, generating additional benefits for Michigan farmers and families.

The ten-year-old program – originally piloted at five Detroit farmers markets – is now available at more than 250 grocery stores and farmers markets throughout Michigan, according to the Fair Food Network. More than 25 states across the nation now offer their own Double Up programs modeled after Michigan’s flagship effort.

In Michigan, more than $21 million in combined SNAP and Double Up sales have occurred since 2009 — dollars directly benefiting Michigan farmers and local businesses — bringing 13.5 million pounds of healthy food to Michigan families.

Double Up’s track record of proven impact for farmers and families in Michigan and across the nation helped make federal support for healthy food incentives a permanent part of future farm bills. State funding is leveraging this new federal support.

“Double Up Food Bucks has been a unifier from the start,” said Oran Hesterman, founder and CEO of Fair Food Network. “It brings together farmers and families. It brings together communities. And as we’ve seen again this year, it brings together legislators from both sides of the aisle. We look forward to continuing and deepening our partnership with the state.”

Related story: Large to small growers move crops with Farm-to-School movement

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