Program provides incentives for those on food assistance to purchase fruits, vegetables


RADIO IOWA –  A state program that helps those on food assistance eat healthier has crossed the one-million-dollar mark in benefits given.

Coordinator Aryn McClaren says the program gives what are called “Double Up Bucks” to those on food assistance when they purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. She says the food bucks earned can then be used the next time to buy more fruits and vegetables.

She says the program has two goals. “To encourage people to make the healthy choice of eating fresh food and vegetables — while also trying to make that an easier choice,” McClaren says. “If they are food insecure and have a limited budget they can’t always afford the food that might be healthier for their families.”

The program was given an added boost when federal coronavirus money was approved from the state. “So, we are very fortunate to receive that funding that has helped support the expansion of the program,” McClaren says. McClaren says the program has seen its biggest growth this year as the need has grown — and that includes more use at farmers’ markets. She says they are proud of the growth they’ve seen at farmers’ markets this year with most of them seeing four times the amount of food bucks they’ve seen before.

Under the program, a person who spends $10 in food assistance benefits at a participating site receives an additional $10 in free Double Up Food Bucks. The food bucks come in the form of paper vouchers and McClaren says they are working on an electronic program for the food bucks.

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