A food benefit program aimed at helping people in need access healthy fruits and vegetables is expanding its presence in Western New York.
The Double Up Food Bucks program takes the normal purchasing power of supplemental nutrition assistance and doubles it.
“When a SNAP user uses their benefit at a participating location, for every dollar that they spend in SNAP, they are matched a dollar for free in Double Up Food Bucks that can be used only on fresh fruits and vegetables,” New York State Program Manager Patricia Akers explained.
Double Up is in its sixth season across the state, and continues to grow. This year, Double Up has added four locations in Niagara Falls, another four in Lackawanna, and a new site in the City of Buffalo with the help of Cornell Cooperative Extension's Veggie Van and the urban farm stand Groundwork Market Garden. Like all of the previously participating locations, the new sites were chosen based on need.
“We’ve implemented a competitive application process this year that’s helped us identify new markets who are serving low-income consumers, or who are best suited to serve low-income communities who don’t have access – both financial and physical access – to healthy fruits and vegetables grown right here in New York State,” Akers said.
Double Up is mostly a warm-weather program – following the state’s growing season and operation of farmer’s markets. But it Western New York, it’s also available in three corner stores in Buffalo’s East Side neighborhood to help provide year-round access to healthy options. Akers said retail shops are among the kinds of locations Double Up wants to continue to expand into across the state.
A full list and map of locations currently participating is available at doubleupnys.com.