Double Up Food Bucks: A Food Assistance Pilot Program

The Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) is teaming up with the Healthiest State Initiative, Eat Greater Des Moines, and the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market to take the successful Wireless EBT Project one step further. The Project provides wireless point-of-sales machines to qualified direct marketing farmers. This enables the farmers to accept the EBT Food Assistance cards at participating markets which provides easy access to the freshest food Iowa has to offer.

“Now, through working with these other agencies, Food Assistance recipients are able to stretch food dollars into healthy choices with the Double Up Food Bucks pilot,” said Wendy Rickman, Division Administrator of Adult Children and Family Services. “This program offers a much needed nutritional boost to those families with limited food budgets.”    

At the Des Moines Downtown Farmers Market, Food Assistance recipients may receive up to $10 matching dollars per week. For every qualified dollar in purchases the recipient receives a matching dollar up to $10 that can be spent any time during the 2017 market season.  The Double Up Food Bucks may be used at the market to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables locally grown here in Iowa. 

“DHS is utilizing the Wireless EBT Project to introduce new, innovative technology that accepts EBT and the Double Up Food Bucks incentive cards,” said Tracy Penick, EBT Director.  “The Double Up Food Bucks pilot will be beneficial to not only Iowa's EBT recipients to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, but to the farmers who participate in the pilot.”   

To participate, Food Assistance recipients go to the Double Up Food Bucks booth at the market to receive a reloadable incentive card that they keep for the season.  Then look for one of the 30 farmers with the Double Up Food Bucks sign and purchase SNAP-eligible foods. The farmer will load the incentive card for matching $1 per $1, up to $10 per market day to spend any time until the end of the Market in October.

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Amy Lorentzen McCoy