Double Up Food Bucks New York State: Expanding Geographies and Innovating Technologies
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
September 23, 2021
Double Up Food Bucks is a food-purchasing program that offers Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients a matching value on dollars spent at farmers markets on fresh, locally grown produce.
For instance, a family that spends $10 in SNAP benefits at a participating farmers market receives an additional $10 in Double Up Food Bucks to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables. In addition to helping low-income families purchase more fruits and vegetables, the program helps regional farmers gain new customers and earn more income. Food is vital to the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers, but poor diet is a leading contributor to death and chronic disease in New York State. In New York State, obesity is more prevalent among Black and Latino populations, populations without a college education, and those living in households earning less than $50,000 a year. The Field & Fork Network has been administering Double Up Food Bucks at local farmers markets in New York State since 2014, and NYHealth has supported its ongoing expansion in 2020, 2018, 2017, and 2015. In 2021, NYHealth awarded Field & Fork a grant to further expand Double Up Food Bucks to more outlets across upstate New York, using innovative technology solutions.
Under this grant, Field & Fork will implement innovative expansion strategies that allow more outlets and vendors to offer Double Up Food Bucks, as well as deliver the program in a more secure and convenient way for customers. It will reach more New Yorkers struggling with food insecurity by expanding the program’s operability into both grocery and retail stores and farmers market settings, allowing SNAP shoppers more choice in where they buy their fresh produce. It will also implement and evaluate a high-tech SNAP incentive system, based on loyalty card technology and point-of-sale systems. Previously, SNAP customers used tokens or paper vouchers, but these methods of currency were easy to misplace. Transitioning to a high-tech system will create more ease and convenience for vendors and customers and boost their participation. Field & Fork will host meetings for farmers market and grocery store program operators to problem-solve technology challenges together and develop training programs. The innovative expansion strategies will result in higher enrollment in the Double Up Food Bucks program across upstate New York, increasing the purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables among SNAP recipients through a secure and convenient technology system.