Saturday, August 15, 2015

Promoting the Use of Double-Up Food Bucks for Produce in New Mexico

The Sunday Railyards Market is a Double-up Food Bucks site
HB93 appropriated nearly $365,000 for families that receive support via the Supplemental Nutrition Food Assistance Program (SNAP). Farm to Table, the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico and other organizations strongly supported the initiative during the past legislative session. The measure gained broad support from both parties in the State Legislature.

This benefit is new this year, so chances are that many SNAP participants have not heard about this program that basically doubles the amount of money that can be used for fresh fruits and vegetables with food stamps via the 34 New Mexico Growers markets throughout the state.

 "It’s easy with Double Up Food Bucks! For example, if you spend $10 from your SNAP EBT Card at a participating farmers market, we give you another $10 to buy fresh fruits and veggies grown in New Mexico," said the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association (NMFMA) which benefits because SNAP participants would purchase locally grown produce. "If you spend $25 from your SNAP EBT Card, we give you another $25 for fresh New Mexico-grown fruits and vegetables. It’s that easy! Some farmers’ markets may have a limit for daily Double Up purchases, others may not. Check with the folks at your local farmers’ market information table to find out!

While this benefit is wonderful and offers a way for many families in New Mexico to gain access to fresh produce, there is a provision that unused funds would go back to the general fund. Most markets close at the end of  October, so about two-a-half months remain before this benefit runs. And really, the best time to use it is now, when tomatoes,squash, peaches, cucumbers and chiles and other good things are available. Apples will be available in September.

So how do we increase participation?  One way is to spread the word, and the NMFMA has a handy link  that enables SNAP participants and anyone who provides assistance to Find a Location by simply entering a zip code.

For more information and ideas on how to spread the word, check out the NMFMA's Double Up Food Bucks site.

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