Since the start of the pandemic and the resulting spike in unemployment, a growing number of Oregonians have become eligible for SNAP (the program formerly called food stamps), many of whom have never participated in the program before. SNAP works to feed hungry people, but it works even better when paired with incentives that help low-income families stretch their benefits to bring home more fruits and vegetables.
Even before COVID-19, one in eight Oregonians identified as food insecure, ranking Oregon the twelfth hungriest state in the nation. More than 600,000 Oregonians depend on SNAP to put food on their tables each month, and more than one-third of those SNAP recipients are children. There is also stark inequality in the rates of hunger. While 12% of white Oregon residents identify as food insecure, the rate is 28% for Black and Latinx and 30% of Native Americans living in Oregon. Essential workers are almost twice as likely to participate in SNAP as non-essential workers. For many with limited income, purchasing fresh produce is cost-prohibitive.
A Triple Win
Since 2012, the Farmers Market Fund has been coordinating the Double Up Food Bucks program at farmers markets across Oregon. For every dollar spent on SNAP-eligible foods purchased at participating farmers markets, shoppers receive an additional dollar to spend on Oregon-grown fruits and vegetables. Double Up is a triple win: families bring home more fruits and veggies, small farmers get a financial boost, and Oregon’s local economies thrive. In 2020, 52 farmers markets statewide are participating in Double Up Food Bucks, including the King, Kenton, Lents International, and Shemanski Park Farmers Markets.
DUFB Changes Lives
Double Up participants describe being able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that they would previously have gone without. With access to twice the fresh produce, families can experiment with cooking new vegetables. Some learn food preservation, canning and freezing to help extend the season’s bounty, while others use their benefits to buy plant starts and begin home gardens to grow some of their own produce.
This shift in diet results in improved health for many. 87% report an improvement in their overall health. The impact of Double Up Food Bucks extends beyond farm-fresh produce; many shoppers find the actual experience of shopping at a farmers market to be healing. “Regularly visiting and getting food from the farmers market has not only improved my physical health but the sense of community and connection has been a huge improvement for my mental health,” explains one shopper.
These days, Double Up Food Bucks is more important than ever. Farmers markets are reporting exponential growth in demand for the program. Double Up is made possible in part by funding from the State of Oregon, as well as support from many individual donors. Every $10 helps a family bring home $10 of local produce! Here’s how you can help support Double Up Food Bucks. As COVID-19 touches every aspect of our lives, Double Up is one way to ensure all Oregonians can continue to access the fresh, nutritious food they need.