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Double Up Food Bucks a Triple Win for Communities

The Boise Farmers Market offers a mobile market to neighborhoods around the city. (Tamara Cameron/Boise Farmers Market)
The Boise Farmers Market offers a mobile market to neighborhoods around the city. (Tamara Cameron/Boise Farmers Market)
July 2, 2018

BOISE, Idaho — Farmers markets across Idaho are offering people the chance to double how far their food benefits go on fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Double Up Food Bucks program provides a one-to-one match on purchases of fresh food for recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. Eileen Stachowski with the Idaho Farmers Market Association said the double-up program has been growing since it came to Idaho three years ago and is available at 13 farmers markets across the state.

She called the program a "triple win" for communities.

"It helps local economies keep more federal dollars circulating. It increases the amount of money available to low-income families to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables,” Stachowski said. “And then, that money is going to local farmers."

Stachowski said the goal is to expand to more Idaho farmers markets and also offer it at traditional retailers. She noted that fresh fruits and vegetables can sometimes be costly, and this program is helping incentivize healthy food choices for low-income Idahoans.

According to the Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, more than three-quarters of Idaho food stamp recipients are families with children.

For the producers, Stachowski said the program does more than just add to their bottom line.

"It also helps generate more knowledge of farmers markets. We're marketing them more,” she said. “We're doing work around benefits of healthy eating, and so the whole program is having multiple impacts on farmers."

In Boise, the Double Up program isn't tethered to a single location one day a week. The Boise Farmers Market offers a mobile market that serves 21 different neighborhoods across the city Monday through Thursday. Tamara Cameron, manager of the mobile market, said farmers market food has the added benefit of lasting longer in the fridge.

"That really counts when you're talking about something like lettuce, because lettuce expires quickly,” Cameron said. “So if you got it yesterday at the farmers market, this day next week it's probably still going to be just fine. So it lasts a lot longer, and that really saves people food dollars also."

To find a farmers market near you, visit IdahoFMA.org.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID