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Nebraska Farmers Deliver Double Harvests to SNAP Recipients

More than 1,000 farmers have participated in a program designed to connect struggling families with healthy foods. The Double Up Food Bucks program, launched in Detroit in 2009, is now in its second year in Nebraska. (Allen Sheffield/Flickr)
More than 1,000 farmers have participated in a program designed to connect struggling families with healthy foods. The Double Up Food Bucks program, launched in Detroit in 2009, is now in its second year in Nebraska. (Allen Sheffield/Flickr)
July 10, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraskans struggling to make ends meet are getting a boost from local farmers, and it's a two-way street. Farmers also are benefitting from the Double Up Food Bucks program.

Morgan Hartline, the assistant extension educator with SNAP-Ed at the University of Nebraska, explains the incentive program lets recipients of SNAP, the program formerly known as food stamps, double their buying power for locally grown fruits and vegetables at participating farmers' markets and grocery stores.

"Not only is the SNAP participant getting more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet, but the farmers are getting more customers - same with the grocery stores - and that money is really staying in the economy," she explains.

Last year, Nebraska joined 22 other states with a double-up pilot program in Lincoln that included two farmers' markets, a mobile market and an independent grocery store. This year, the program expanded to Omaha and Beatrice, which Hartline notes brings the program within reach of a majority of the state's SNAP recipients.

Critics of SNAP claim the program encourages unemployment, and the U.S. House recently passed a farm bill that would expand work requirements in order to receive benefits. The requirement was rejected by the U.S. Senate.

Hartline says a majority of SNAP recipients can't work, and she adds many recipients already are working at least one job, but aren't being paid a living wage.

"It's kind of easy to throw around that straw-man argument of, 'Here's this person who's taking advantage of the system,' when in all reality, people who are on SNAP are children, or single families, or maybe they're disabled, they're elderly," she explains.

More than a thousand farmers have reaped economic benefits from the Double Up Food Bucks program, which was launched in Detroit in 2009. Organizers say produce accounts for more of Double Up shoppers' baskets than other store shoppers, and a majority are confident in meal planning and food-preparation skills.

To find a site near you, visit DoubleUpNebraska.org.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - NE