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Posted on Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 6 a.m.

'Double Up Food Bucks' program coming to local farmers markets

By James Dickson

Starting this week, bridge card recipients can stretch their dollars at several farmers markets in Washtenaw County.

The Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Kerrytown, along with its counterparts on the west side of town and in Ypsilanti, have partnered with the Fair Food Network to bring the Double Up Food Bucks” program to Washtenaw County.

ann arbor farmers market.jpg

Shoppers browse the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on a Wednesday in May.

Jessica Webster |

The food bucks program kicks off today at the Downtown Ypsilanti Farmers Market, Wednesday in Kerrytown, Thursday at Ann Arbor's Westside Market, and Saturday at Ypsilanti-Depot Town, said Rachel Chadderdon, program manager for Double Up Food Bucks.

"When (the Fair Food Network) approached us, I thought this was a great way to bring in people who might not normally come to the Farmers Market," said Molly Notarianni, manager of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. 

Notarianni said the market has accepted food stamps and other food assistance programs for about a year.

Food bucks not only trade as currency — as with food stamp tokens, farmers redeem them for legal tender later — but the network matches bridge card spending 100 percent for purchases up to $20. That means a food bucks user who spends $20 will walk away with $40 worth of fresh fruit and vegetables.

There is one restriction: Double Up Food Bucks can only be spent on Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables. 

In 2010, the program will run through Oct. 31 because that's about when locally-grown crops start becoming scarce, Chadderdon said. It should return in June or July and remain a fixture locally for at least three years, she said.

The Double Up Food Bucks program is an extension of the Fair Food Network's "Mo' Bucks" pilot effort last year at Eastern Market and four other farmers markets in Detroit. 

On Saturday, Sept. 11, the program will expand to Battle Creek, and the plan is to establish Double Up Food Bucks programs at farmers markets across the state over the next three years, Chadderdon said.

James David Dickson can be reached at



Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

I was so excited when I found out about this! Unfortunately, I canned a half bushel of peaches and made a bucket of sauerkraut right before they started this program. But I will certainly be buying more fruits and vegetables to preserve until the markets open up next year. I just opened my last jar of last year's tomato sauce today, so I think that's next on my list.


Wed, Sep 8, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

Blockers. It is worth the drive. Yes, I do agree, fresh fruit and vegetables do not stay long, but if you use them in your cooking on a weekly basis, they can't go wrong. Plus, you need to keep them in the coldest part of your fridge or house. I am now waiting on pumpkins. I will think of those green bags too. Thanks.

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 9:44 p.m.

@AnnEnglish do they really work for you? I've heard mixed reviews but one thing that really irks me about good, fresh produce is how quickly it goes south. If those bags really work they may be worth a try.

Ann English

Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 5:30 p.m.

jns131, Is it Blockers or Block? One of my co-workers told me about that store and called it Block. You probably go there more often than than she does. One reason more of us don't buy fresh produce is its perishability. Junk food has a longer shelf life. I use Debbie Meyers green bags to extend the life of fresh produce.


Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

We were exposed to a place called Blockers. It is on the corner of Middle Belt and Eureka. Wow what a farmers market that place is. I go every weekend from the time they open to the time they close. Yes, you can get great fresh food to can and freeze. I am canning beets today. Did corn over the weekend and tomatoes when I get them. Think I might be getting a bridge card. Thanks for the heads up.


Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 8:45 a.m.

Why don't they just cut the prices in half for everyone?

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

I think this is a great idea. @iwaspugs is right---it's waaaaaay cheaper to eat crappy food (ahem, 10 for $10 Mac and Cheese at Kroger, etc.) than it is to buy healthy, fresh fruits and veggies. I'm all about everyone getting good food and hopefully this program will encourage those people who otherwise couldn't afford it to get quality fruits and veggies from local farmers. Rock on!


Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

This is a great program. We salute Fair Food Network for this benefit. A doubling of your food stamp dollars for fresh fruits and vegatables is an excellent idea. It helps low income consumers afford fresh food every week while the farmers markets are open.

eileen spring

Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 7:45 a.m.

This is a smart and much needed program. It benefits low income people as well as local farmers.


Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

xmo and susan...most people who receive help via a Bridge Card are just trying to feed their families. The help that Bridge Card holders receive only supplements their monthly food expensenses. The "junk food" costs much less then fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of the time it is not about choice but neccesity.


Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 7:10 a.m.

xmo, you don't know what you are talking about. "Most of the people" you are referring to, have probably never been exposed to really fresh, wonderful fruits and vegies. Once they do, they will be hooked! Bravo to the Fair Food Network for creating this wonderful program!


Tue, Sep 7, 2010 : 6:53 a.m.

Its too bad most of the people with a Bridge Card prefer junk food to fruits and vegetables.