Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important part of a nutritious diet. In fact, according to the Harvard School of public health, a diet rich in vegetables and fruits has lots of benefits. It can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar. For these reasons, we make sure to provide them at the Storehouse food pantry. New Mexico’s farmers’ markets are also a great place to find fresh produce. Plus, people who have an SNAP/EBT card can get twice the produce for their shopping dollars. This is due to the Double Up Food Bucks program, which is done in partnership with farmers’ markets and local grocers.
If you are unfamiliar, an EBT card is an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. Much like a debit card, it allows people taking part in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to pay for food using their SNAP benefits. (The program formerly known as food stamps) When a person shops at an authorized store, their EBT account is debited to reimburse the store for the food purchased. EBT is used in all 50 states, including New Mexico. The EBT system has been the only way to use SNAP benefits since 2004.
The goal of having people use their EBT/SNAP benefits through the Double Up program is to reinforce the good idea of eating fresh fruits and vegetables by doubling the benefit. When people spend $10 from their SNAP EBT card at a participating outlet, they are given another $10 to buy fresh fruits and veggies grown here in New Mexico. It makes it easy to get double the nutritious foods.
Double Up Food Bucks: Good for Farmers, Families & the Local Economy
The Double Up Food Bucks program doubles the value of the SNAP federal nutrition assistance spent at participating farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and grocery stores. Of course, that helps our New Mexico families bring home more fruits and vegetables. However, the benefits don’t stop there.
First, low-income people get more healthy food to eat. Second, New Mexico farmers gain new customers and make more money on those sales. Third, more food dollars spent on New Mexico products means that more of those dollars stay in the local economy. Though it’s called the Double Up Food Bucks program, it’s a triple win for our communities.
The History of the Double Up Food Bucks Program
The Double Up Food Bucks EBT incentive program started in 2010. At first, there were 17 farmers’ markets involved. It all began thanks to federal stimulus funding, which was provided through the New Mexico Human Services Department. Even after that funding ended, several growers’ markets carried the program forward. In 2015, the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association got both federal and state funding for Double Up. This allowed the program to expand to more than 30 New Mexico farmers’ markets.
In 2016, the Double Up Food Bucks program began to include certain grocery stores. This was part of a pilot program. Plus, other groups got involved. This included some farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs that gave shoppers a chance to buy fresh, local produce straight from the farm. This expansion to new outlets was a boon to the Double Up program. In addition, more farmers’ markets cropped up, which allowed the program to grow to over 70 sites statewide in 2016.
Over the years, the Double Up Food Bucks program has continued to grow. Current locations can be found on the Double Up website: https://www.doubleupnm.org/locations/
Together We Can Help the New Mexico Food System
The Double Up program helps low-income families, just like we do at the Storehouse. Plus, it supports hundreds of New Mexico farmers. (Many of whom share excess produce with the Storehouse). Finally, the Double Up program it is rooted in partnership so that everyone involved benefits.
As part of the food system here in New Mexico, the Storehouse is happy to share this resource with our clients and our supporters. If you use an EBT card, go get double the fresh fruits and veggies! Even if you don’t have an EBT card, consider supporting the farmers’ markets that take part in Double Up. Together, we can all be part of making sure people in New Mexico have food on their tables.