Program that ‘doubles up food bucks’ at farmers markets for those in need expands in Utah

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jul 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-04 23:31:46-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utahns who use food stamps can double their money at select farmers markets throughout the state. It's the second year of the program, but organizers say this year it's bigger and better.

It's called "double up food bucks" and it will be at Farmers Markets throughout the state all summer long. The program allows those using food stamps to stretch their food dollars for more fruits and vegetables.

“Basically how it works is somebody uses their food stamp card at the farmers market and we match up to ten dollars, and those matched benefits can only be used to buy Utah-grown produce,” said Gina Cornia, Executive Director for Utahns Against Hunger.

The goal is to provide low-income families who participate in the SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program), formerly known as food stamps, access to fresh, local food.

“We know low-income families really struggle to afford to buy produce and this is locally grown, maybe it was picked a day or two ahead of time,” Cornia said.

The bonus bucks can only be used for produce items. The program was launched last year at only one farmers market with a budget of $2,500, but that ran out fast. This year, a grant awarded to Utahns Against Hunger provides $53,000 for the program at 19 locations.

It's a program the Davis family says they're grateful for.

“This is all organic so that means you can buy a little more and you can also say I wasn't going to get this but today I can,” said Melissa Davis from Lehi.

She says the matched benefits go a long way in feeding her two daughters.

“We don't have to buy the one dollar bag of Cheetos, where we can spend a little bit more on healthier things--fruits and veggies,” Davis said.

Last year, more than $50,000 was spent in EBT benefits at farmers markets. This summer, Utahns Against Hunger hope to see even more traffic.

There are 19 farmers markets throughout the state where you can use those double up food bucks, you can see that list here.