Funding helps combat food insecurity, supports New York farmers, and local economies
Assemblyman Demond Meeks and Assemblyman Harry Bronson joins Field & Fork Network and Foodlink to announce its inclusion in the New York State Budget. Double Up Food Bucks NY received bipartisan support for the $2 million allocation for the second consecutive year; the funding will allow the statewide nutrition incentive program to expand services to approximately 100,000 additional SNAP shoppers and the opportunity to leverage an additional $2 million in Federal funding, going directly to NY farmers, small businesses, and local economies.
Double Up Food Bucks NY (DUFBNY) is a national nutrition incentive program operated by the Field & Fork Network, that matches SNAP eligible purchases $1 for $1, up to $20 per day, to purchase local fruits and vegetables. Its benefits are three-fold: a win for New York farmers selling more produce; a win for low-income families putting more healthy food on their tables; and a win for local businesses and economies. Since 2014, DUFB NY has served 110,000+ SNAP shoppers, across 30 counties, generating over $10.1 million in healthy food sales.
As inflation and food costs continue to rise, 1 in 10 New York families struggle to put food on the table, Double Up makes healthy food choices within reach. Double Up is a proven, innovative model that simultaneously delivers health and economic benefits. Double Up addresses major food insecurity challenges, like access and affordability, by partnering with stores and markets in areas of high need, to give people the power to choose their own foods and avoid having to rely on food pantries to feed their families.
“We’re thankful for Assemblyman Meeks and Assemblyman Bronson’s support and lucky to have lawmakers who champion innovative ways to make a real difference for people in their districts,” said Lisa French, Executive Director of Field & Fork Network.
“Local and organic food options are an important resource for preventing food insecurity amongst vulnerable members of our community. It is essential that those in need of support have access to affordable options for healthy and nutritious food in their neighborhoods. These investments will ensure that we provide for our low-income residents while also delivering direct support to small businesses, farmers, and the local economy. I am glad that we were successful in securing funding for this important benefit to thousands of New Yorkers. I want to thank the Field & Fork Network and my state colleagues for demonstrating their support for underserved communities, together we are making a difference throughout New York State,” says Assemblymember Demond Meeks.
“Ensuring that families, especially those with young children, have access to healthy, fresh food is imperative. We are a country of abundance and there is no reason anyone should be hungry. Food insecurity affects academic and work success, mental and physical health, and overall quality of life. With this knowledge in mind, we must do all we can to help people feed their families and do so without judgement or insecurity. As cost continue to rise and families feel increasingly stressed about how far their dollars stretch, Double Up Food Bucks is meeting the moment and is an important step forward to keeping families healthy and happy,“ says Assemblymember Harry Bronson.
Double Up Food Bucks is offered at Foodlink’s Curbside Market, a mobile market with 64 locations across Rochester and the surrounding communities. Foodlink partnered with Double Up Food Bucks in 2016 and the program has grown steadily year over year, reaching more than 17,000 Curbside Customers. Last year, the market distributed over $53,000 in Double Up Food Bucks. This has been a critical resource for families who lost an average of $159/month in SNAP benefits with the ending of COVID Emergency Allotments this March. Double Up customers consistently will earn the incentive at the beginning of the month and spend it at the end of the month when their benefits have run out. A strong indicator that people rely on this program to fill a food gap.
“The Double Up Food Bucks program has allowed our Curbside Market to stretch our customers’ food budgets even further for the past 7 years, encouraging the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables in communities where diet-related illnesses are prevalent,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “We are grateful that state funding, championed by Assemblymember Meeks, will allow this critical program to expand even further in the year ahead.”
Since the program launched in 2014, demand has increased year over year; participation grew 107% in the last year alone. The State’s $2 million dollar investment will mean the program can serve more SNAP shoppers and greatly expand participating locations. The funding also allows the program to scale services and distribute the dollars more equitably through partnerships with large grocery stores, such as Tops Markets, and integration with SNAP online grocery providers. Field & Fork Network is dedicated to supporting New York farmers and making fresh, local food accessible to all New Yorkers.
“Double Up Food Bucks has been a unifier from the start,” said Lisa French, Executive Director, Field & Fork Network. “It brings together farmers and families. It brings together communities. And as we’ve seen again this year, it brings together legislators from both sides of the aisle. We look forward to continuing and deepening our partnership with the state.”