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Getting Ahead: Double Food Bucks

Posted Aug 11, 2023 9:24 AM
By Patricia Jones, Alliance Community Task Force: Creating Opportunity

You may have seen a sign by the cash registers in Grocery Kart that says NEBRASKA DOUBLE UP FOOD BUCKS. What is Double Up Food Bucks, and how does it work?

Double Up is a nationwide program benefitting low-income households who qualify for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. When people use their SNAP/EBT Card, Double Up matches their fresh fruit and vegetable purchases dollar for dollar, up to $20 a day. That means that families who are eligible for SNAP (formerly called food stamps) can get twice the fresh produce. No additional sign-up is required.

Eligible products at Grocery Kart include fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This includes pre-cut and bagged items. It does not include items that come seasoned or with sauces or dressings. Items in the deli are not included, and neither are salad kits.

When people use an EBT card to pay for groceries, the cash register will automatically keep track of eligible produce items. The amount of their produce purchase is matched dollar-for-dollar up to $20. The shopper receives Double Up Food Bucks as a register coupon to redeem next time they purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. The coupon must be surrendered when it is used. If a portion remains, a new coupon is issued.

One of the problems facing many low-income families is the ability to afford a healthy diet. Many workers work long hours on odd shifts, so they rely on fast food or processed food for their family meals. This causes a number of health problems, because these types of meals often offer very little nutrition, but lots of fat, salt, and sugar.

Double Up works with locally-owned and independent grocery stores and farmers markets. In the Nebraska Panhandle, the only participating stores at this time are Grocery Kart in Alliance and Fresh Foods in Gering. Chain stores and dollar stores are not participating.

Becky Maser, manager of Grocery Kart, said that she was approached by RDS, the company that provides their cash register system and updates their data. Grocery Kart has been participating in Double Up Food Bucks since April, and produce sales have been going up thanks to the program.

In the United States, food is the third-largest household expense, after housing and transportation. Families with low incomes spend more than a third of their disposable income on food. People with limited resources have to make difficult food choices — and for many, fruits and vegetables have been out of reach. Eating healthy food can be expensive!

SNAP is a government program that provides assistance to buy food for low-wage working families, low-income seniors, people with disabilities, and other individuals with low incomes.

Families with children make up 66% of SNAP recipients. With this assistance, the hope is that low-income households will be able to afford other needs, like rent, utilities, transportation, and medical bills.

With Double Up Food Bucks at places like Grocery Kart, SNAP/EBT cards can be stretched beyond bread, eggs, meat, and canned goods. Families can get the best nutrition possible, because they can buy more fresh fruits and vegetables. From apples to zucchini, an entire alphabet of produce is available!