Shoppers in two Upstate NY communities have a new way to get healthy produce. Two retail stores in Syracuse and Albany officially launched their participation in the Double Up Food Bucks program.
The American Heart Association worked with Field and Fork Network to bring Double Up Food Bucks to the Syracuse Cooperative Market in Syracuse and Honest Weight Food Co-Op in Albany. Double Up is a nutrition incentive program that matches $1 for $1 federal SNAP dollars to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. When shoppers use their SNAP dollars to buy produce, Double Up Food Bucks will give them the same amount, up to $20 a day, to buy more produce, or save it for their next shopping trip.
The program emphasizes New York-grown produce, so it benefits farmers, as well.
“Double Up is a win-win-win,” said Lisa French, co-founder and executive director of Field & Fork Network, which administers the Double Up program in New York State. “Low-income families bring home more healthy food, local farmers sell more produce, and more food dollars stay in the local economy. Each has a positive ripple effect of benefits.”
“The Double Up Food Bucks program was a natural fit for our stores; it creates greater access to fresh, healthy foods in our community, and allows the Co-op to support both our customers and the local growers who supply much of our produce,” said Jeremy Dechario, General Manager of the Syracuse Cooperative Market.
Double Up Food Bucks can help remove barriers to eating healthy, as well as exposing shoppers to new fruits and vegetables.
“Food insecurity is at an all-time high. We’re in the midst of a pandemic and we still have folks in the community we call home wondering where their next meal is coming from,” said Alex Mytelka, head of marketing at Honest Weight. “Plain and simple, we need to do better. We need to show up for each other. As a community-owned food cooperative, we’re on a mission to break down this false narrative that fresh, healthy, colorful, locally grown food is only available to those who can afford it. Double Up is now one of the strongest tools in our collective community food access toolkit.”
In addition to helping Field and Fork Network expand the Double Up program to new areas across New York State, the American Heart Association is advocating for a $2 million investment from state government for the program. Making Double Up a sustainable program will help SNAP recipients eat a healthier diet, along with benefiting farmers and the economy.
“Being able to eat well is a key factor to improving heart and brain health, and we are seeing now more than ever how critical good health is,” said Michael Poindexter, corporate executive at SEFCU, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church and member of the Capital Region American Heart Association Board of Directors. “We’ve been advocating for funding for Double Up Food Bucks at the local and state level so that more people can have access to even more healthy food. We’re proud to work with Field & Fork Network as they implement programs across the state,”
The Double Up Food Bucks program is now in more than 180 locations across the state. For a complete list of participating Double Up sites, visit www.doubleupnys.com/locations.