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SNAP Dollars Worth Double at Farmers Markets

Low-income children in Colorado are almost twice as likely to go without fruits and vegetables as are other kids. (Erik Scheel/Pexels)
Low-income children in Colorado are almost twice as likely to go without fruits and vegetables as are other kids. (Erik Scheel/Pexels)
May 8, 2018

DENVER – From May to October, a rainbow of locally grown produce arrives at farmers markets, and at some 85 locations across Colorado, food stamps are worth double for fruits and vegetables.

The "Double Up Food Bucks" program allows SNAP recipients to use their EBT cards to get up to $20 in fresh produce per visit at participating locations.

Amy Nelms, the program's manager, says it's an important way to add nutrition at the dinner table and help local farmers.

"It's a great way to bring home fresh, healthy produce, and then also know that all those dollars that they spend at those markets go to support Colorado producers," she says. "Many of our producers here are struggling as much as SNAP recipients."

Nelms says many farmers markets cater to families by providing kids activities, holding single parents and senior days, and by offering cooking classes and even dancing. Close to half a million Coloradans rely on SNAP each month, and most get just over four dollars per day. In 2017 SNAP helped keep more than 8 million people out of poverty, including 4 million children.

Nelms notes that a lot of families are forced to decide between eating healthy or being full, and parents frequently reach for a box of macaroni and cheese instead of risking their limited funds on broccoli. She says the program aims to eliminate that risk, and also bring more people into the local food system.

"Being able to offer families something that's high quality is also just saying that, you know, 'Regardless of your income, you're deserving, and you can have choice, and you can feed your families what feels good,'" she adds.

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, low-income children are almost twice as likely to go without fruits and vegetables as other kids are. Double Up Food Bucks was created in Detroit in 2009, and is now active in 24 states.

To find out where you can double up on fresh Colorado-grown fruits and vegetables, visit DoubleUpColorado.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO