Double Up Food Bucks evaluation demonstrates success

Report highlights healthy trends in farmers market purchases.

With Double Up Food Bucks programs across Michigan starting on July 1, 2013, it is important to examine the impact that this program has made in our state.

The Fair Food Network (FFN) shared some impressive news with the release of their Double Up Food Bucks 2012 Evaluation Report. Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) is a program developed by FFN to encourage low-income consumers to use their federal food assistance benefits (Michigan Bridge Card or SNAP) to purchase fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables at Michigan Farmers Markets. During 2012, the evaluation included customer and vendor surveys that were administered in person and a web-based survey of market managers. Through Community Food Systems, Nutrition and Agricultural Education, Michigan State University Extension promotes Michigan’s Farmers’ Markets and healthy food access and supports the Double Up Food Bucks Program to increase health and support local farmers.

The goals of the surveys were to determine the effectiveness of monetary incentives to promote healthier food choices for SNAP customers and to determine the impact of the DUFB project on the participating markets, vendors and the local food economy.

In 2012, 75 markets from across Michigan participated in the Double Up Food Bucks program, up from 55 in 2011. These markets reached thousands of Michigan residents and involved more than 700 farmers with more than $1.9 M in combined sales from SNAP and DUFB.

Key impacts of the surveys found that the participating markets had a 16 percent increase in SNAP users in 2012.

Market managers also reported that their markets had new customers, were seeing repeat customers returning to the market and 78 percent of market managers agreed that people were not just looking but also purchasing local food. Managers also reported to be serving a more diverse customer base that included younger families and lower-income individuals.

Vendors reported selling more produce because of the DUFB program and were interested in growing and planting more produce for the following season. Vendors also reported making more money at the markets because of the DUFB program.

The positive impacts continued to be reported from the 300 customers that participated in the surveys at the markets: When customers were asked where they purchased fruits and vegetables, the farmers market was the most popular response. The evaluation report showed more new customers are coming to the markets and customers are returning to the markets more often.

13,306 customers used SNAP for the first time at farmers markets during 2012 DUFB season.

More than 80 percent of customers reported they bought different kinds of fruits and vegetables because of DUFB and because of DUFB they purchased more fruits and vegetables in general.

This kind of information continues to demonstrate how Michigan farmers can benefit from food assistance programs. MSU Extension can utilize data like the Double Up Food Bucks Evaluation to encourage more farmers and markets to participate in SNAP access at Farmers Markets and participate in the Double Up Food Bucks Program.

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