Decorah, Iowa – A program to increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables available to low-income Iowans is expanding. The “Double Up Food Bucks” program was launched last summer. It gives Iowans who qualify for “food stamps” an extra 10 dollars each week to buy fresh produce. The program runs during a four-month period in the late spring and summer.
That’s Aryn McLaren, director of programs at the Healthiest State Initiative. It’s the organization that manages and raises the money for the program. The extra 10-dollars-per-week for fresh produce may be used at farmers markets in Decorah along with Des Moines, Dubuque, Grinnell, Iowa City, Spencer and Tama. In addition, McLaren says four “mobile markets” in Waterloo and Des Moines are now places where food stamp recipients may use this extra money to buy raw fruits and vegetables.
The program is financed with private support.
Nearly 400-thousand Iowans currently are qualified for government food assistance, officially called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits. SNAP recipients use electronic debit cards at stores for qualified purchases. The farmers markets and mobile groceries involved in the Double-Up Food Bucks program all offer card-swiping services to customers.