Grant will add fruits, veggies to food stamp diets
A statewide partnership will enable food stamp recipients to add more fruits and vegetables to their families’ diets.
Led by LiveWell Colorado, Colorado Department of Human Services, the Colorado Farmers Market Association, Cooking Matters-Colorado and Boulder County Public Health, the new program called Double Up Food Bucks has been awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant.
Coloradans eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) are provided $1.41 per meal or $4.23 per day on average, which can make it challenging to purchase fruits and vegetables. With Double Up Food Bucks Colorado, SNAP recipients will receive up to $20 in Colorado-grown fruits and vegetables when they use their SNAP benefits at participating farmers markets or retailers. SNAP benefits will be matched dollar for dollar to be put toward Colorado-grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
“Double Up Food Bucks provides an exciting opportunity for Garfield County Department of Human Services’ SNAP recipients to stretch their benefits and improve their wellbeing,” said Mary Baydarian, director of Garfield County Department of Human Services. “We are also hopeful that Double Up Food Bucks will be an incentive for Garfield County residents who are eligible, but not yet enrolled, to apply for SNAP benefits.”
“Close to 50 partners have come together to make Double Up Food Bucks Colorado a reality,” said Wendy Peters Moschetti, LiveWell Colorado director of food systems. “We hope to reach the 150,000 households who depend on SNAP in 19 urban and rural counties.”
While Colorado adults have the nation’s lowest obesity rate at 21.3 percent, adults with annual incomes below $10,000 have an obesity rate of 29.2 percent. In 2013, 86 percent of adult Coloradans did not meet recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption.
The first year of Double Up Food Bucks Colorado will include reaching 30 farmers markets and at least five additional retailers in 19 counties across Colorado. Participating Farmers Markets in Garfield County are the Downtown Glenwood Springs Market, Rifle Farmers Market and New Castle Community Market. The Double Up Food Bucks Colorado program also goes beyond farmers markets in Colorado through community-based urban agriculture projects with on-site marketplaces (including community supported agriculture, food co-operatives, corner stores and urban agriculture marketplaces) located in low-income neighborhoods.
“Obesity is one of Garfield County Public’s primary areas of focus, and through healthy food access we can start to create behavior change toward reduction and prevention,” said Yvonne Long, Director of Garfield County Public Health.
The money is available through the 2014 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The USDA grant brings a half million dollars of federal money into Colorado, including more than $100,000 in cash incentives alone in 2016, with an increase in incentives in years two and three of the program. The grant was matched by more than $899,000 from 26 partners committing financial and in-kind support to make this program possible in Colorado.
A list of partners participating in Double Up Food Bucks Colorado is online at DoubleUpColorado.org.
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