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Posted on Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Double Up Food Bucks: Program benefits farmers and low-income consumers seeking fresh produce

By Julie Baker


Goetz Farm owner Karlene Goetz puts garlic in a bag for a customer at her stand at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market in Kerrytown in July.

Angela J. Cesere |

A program that doubles the value of food stamps when they're used at farmers markets in Michigan has proven to be a win-win for farmers and low-income consumers, according to an Ann Arbor-based nonprofit.

Double Up Food Bucks is an incentive program that doubles the value of federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program dollars, previously called food stamps.

SNAP sales at Michigan's 55 participating farmers markets grew from $16,000 in 2007 to $1.1 million in 2011, stimulated in part by the Double Up program, according figures from the Fair Food Network. The national nonprofit works to improve access to fresh, healthful foods.


Oran Hesterman

Lon Horwedel |

Oran Hesterman, president of the Fair Food Network, traveled Thursday to Washington, D.C., to brief the Senate Agriculture Committee on the Double Up Food Bucks program as it works to craft the 2012 Farm Bill. The committee is currently researching farm programs to determine the support they will receive in the bill.

"Given these tough economic times at home, in Washtenaw, this is a moment where we need to find more effective ways to use every dollar we're spending," Hesterman said in an interview.

The Double UP program uses funds raised from foundations and corporations to “match” purchases at farmers markets in Michigan: when customers use their SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets, they receive an equal amount of tokens, up to $20 per visit, to use at the market to purchase fresh produce, according to the Fair Food Network.

The program started in 2009 in Detroit, and 55 farmers markets in Michigan now participate, including those in Ann Arbor, Westside Ann Arbor, downtown Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti's Depot Town.

"This program is a market-maker," Hesterman said. "It's providing a model of how to do food stamps better, how to connect consumers with farmers."

There are 1.75 million SNAP recipients in Michigan, 17.5 percent of the state’s population.

More than 275 farmers sold more than $1.3 million of fresh Michigan produce for Double Up Food Bucks and SNAP dollars in the 54 participating markets between June and November 2011, according to Fair Food Network figures.

Hesterman said many consumers using SNAP dollars say they've never gone to farmers markets before, so the Double Up program is creating a new customer base. Single women and the elderly are the most common new users, who now have easier access to produce such as spinach, greens, melons and cucumbers.

The program also has the potential to create jobs because of the increased demand for fresh food. Farmers can potentially expand their productions, Hesterman said.

Click here for more information on the program.

Contact Julie Baker at or 734-623-2576. Follow her on Twitter @juliebakera2.



Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Sounds like a great program, more access to healthier foods too. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Red Floyd

Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

I think this is a great program for those in need! Anyone who ever shops for groceries can attest that the most expensive foods at grocery stores are the healthy foods. Fresh produce, quality meat, quality fish...and the prices are only rising. People in need end up purchasing cheap, unhealthy foods. When I was a poor college student, I wasn't buying produce. I was eating McDonalds (dollar menu). Fortunately I had a real high metabolism through my 20's!


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

Sounds like a wonderful program!

Diana Dyer

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

As local farmers who sell our organic garlic at area farmers' markets, we are committed to supporting the Double-Up program along with all food assistance programs. We want everyone in our area to enjoy the taste and health benefits of our great garlic. This program is a winner on many levels.

Pixie Belle

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

Just for those who don't seem to realize this most people on food stamps have a job. 1 out of 5 people in Michigan are on food stamps. How do you think all the service workers are able to afford food. Rethink your logic. The person checking you out at the grocery store can't afford the food there without assistance.

Pixie Belle

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

Yay I am so glad that they are bringing the program back this year. I love the fresh food and helping out local farmers.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

&quot;....The program also has the potential to create jobs because of the increased demand for fresh food. Farmers can potentially expand their productions....&quot; Yea, sure thing - how many jobs was the Keystone Pipeline going to create before he killed it and the jobs? As the food stamp president, obama will be thrilled to take this NATION WIDE and throw $500,000,000 of Chinese loan money into it!! Feed us democrats! Maybe he can reach that $9 million dollar per job mark he set with the solar company? CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.

Like I said.


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

Yea, lets all meet at the Wagner Road camp (before it's demolished) and talk about how smart we all think obama is!! I'll bring the thin, watered down soup and some matches!!


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 8:23 a.m.

Save your breath people. Some people won't ever get it. They have it all figured out. Just look at the comment history. Legends in their own minds.


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 3:58 a.m.

You have to understand that the media you seem to adore is now like a US version of Pravda - except no threats of imprisonment or death are necessary – they are simple government drones. Obama was a &quot;senior lecturer&quot; or what is referred to as an adjunct. He was never a full professor, full time or near a tenured position of any value. Sorry you bought all the lies - must be painful. Did you know he's never had a real job – never a toe in the real world….not one paycheck? Probably the democrat press never let you in on that little nugget of reality either. …and yet you judge him some great intellect!! LOL Based on what!? His &quot;Nobel Peace Prize&quot;!? LOL He was, however, a laughable "community organizer"! Meanwhile the man you should be worshiping, George W. Bush, graduated from Yale, then HARVARD with an MBA – a credential with actual value. He was a two term governor of Texas, fighter jet pilot and made MILLIONS OF DOLLARS in private business. ….yet you think he "failed" 'cause your democrat buddies said so!? LOL

Alan Benard

Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

&quot;How much did you adore our last qualified president, George W. Bush, &quot; Barack H. Obama: Editor, Harvard Law Review, Constitutional law professor George W. Bush: Air Force deserter, &quot;gentleman's C&quot; as a Yale legacy, failed businessman


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

I wish the world were so simple - yea, throw em some carrots! I have far more compassion then those supporting &quot;government programs&quot; that are required because of central planning socialist green party fraud democrat policies kill hundreds of thousands of jobs - now and in the future. How much did you adore our last qualified president, George W. Bush, when so few people were on food stamps, the government was scrambling to find new ways to give them away rather then admit they had more funding then was required for their mission in a roaring economy? While the democrat press makes their living from bashing Bush, cast aside their lies and flash back to 1977 when Jimmy Carter set the mortgage disaster in motion when he demanded that banks separate risk from loan agreements because requiring the mortgage be granted to someone who proved they could afford and would pay back was racist!! ..then the &quot;federal government&quot; steps in and buys all the bad loans, freeing the banks and SL's to loan to literally anyone!!?? I would have had the compassion to say NO to Carter in 1977 and spare the US Taxpayers the trillions in debt they now face as a result of his nightmarish ideology then that was continued since by the likes of democrats Barney Frank and Chris Dodd - ever heard of either of them!? Have you yet seen a &quot;FRANK LIED&quot; bumper sticker? LOL


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

What a cynical post on a story about a program that's working. Look inside yourself for some compassion.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

For those of you who live in their own little world (xom), food assistance programs are not only provided for those who don't want to work. There are elderly, those with chronic health issues, physically disabled, developmentally disabled.... I am thankful that my adult son with autism and severe developmental disability has been provided this assistance. He lives with us. Every little bit helps. I am hoping to include a weekly trip to one of the farmers markets in his schedule this summer. He can learn to purchase veggies and fruits (using his bridge card) with the help of his personal assistant. Awesome program!


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

What a sad commentary on our times &quot;There are 1.75 million SNAP recipients in Michigan, 17.5 percent of the state's population. &quot; That's 1 out of every 5 people needs the other 4 to provide them with food! What a burden for us and the state! This program is a great idea but we really need to have these people learn to provide for themselves!


Mon, Mar 5, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

I do provide for myself, unfortunately my job doesn't! Cost of living has tripled along with gas, I still have bills that continue to go up when raises do not! So foodstamps assist when I can't pay for the food out of pocket! What a very one sided Comment to make! &quot;these people&quot; work and we work hard. Some of us still work 2 jobs and have an education as well.

Red Floyd

Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

I agree with Susanne... What do YOU do xmo to help people learn to provide for themselves? Or do you simply sit back and want the government to take care of that for you?


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

You should be ashamed of yourself and your thinking!! Not everyone is on food stamps by choice. My daughter terminally ill-- in between all the hospital stays and dr appts and spending every waking moment with her, right now its just impossible to work!!! Trying thinking with an open mind!!!

Susanne Brace

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

What do YOU do that helps others learn to provide for themselves?


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 4:44 p.m.

SHeesh! There but for the grace of God go you.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Food stamps are necessary for many as Cindy has said and for others especially single moms with very little child support, if any, it is a stepping stone. Have some empathy and compassion for others, which means putting yourself in another persons shoes and feeling what they are feeling. Your black and white point of view walls you off from human connection.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.

Taking care of each other should never be considered a burden. We are all in this together. xmo might as well pull up the drawbridge and stock the moat with gators.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

This is a fabulous idea. I truly hope it continues to grow because it only benefits everyone involved. Best wishes to all--farmers and shoppers.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

You don't have to spend countless hours dumpster diving, stealing newspapers, feeding your family processed-only foods and hoarding in order to save big instead get samples from Get Official Samples site


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

This is a wonderful program and I have made good use of it. For every Bridge Card $1 you get a $2 token for more produce. It is nice for everyone involved. I go to Ypsilanti. Free parking!