Double Up Food Bucks: Helping NH Families

Samantha Cave

Don’t let the upcoming winter freezes and holiday season stop you from eating healthy - local, fresh produce is more attainable than ever before with Double Up Food Bucks NH! By matching the value of SNAP dollars spent on fresh produce at local grocery stores, Double Up NH helps lower-income families gain access to good-for-you food that also supports local farmers and their communities across the state. Grocery stores and markets selected to participate track sales from the Double Up program and use this data to increase their local food purchasing - ensuring that farmers in the area benefit too! By helping New Hampshire families make ends meet, Double Up NH also helps local farmers increase profit and drive demand so they can remain viable for many generations.

Double Up NH started as a pilot program with 4 stores last year, and has grown in 2018- with 9 stores now throughout NH, and 1 store on the VT border! The national Double Up Food Bucks program began in 2009 as an initiative of the Fair Food Network, a nonprofit aiming to support farmers and local economies while improving food access. As an incentive-based program, Double Up Food Bucks removes some of the roadblocks to healthy, sustainable, and quality produce by giving consumers an extra hand to comfortably make these choices.

In the Double Up program, customers with SNAP benefits who shop at participating stores receive a generous 50% off fresh produce, totaling up to $10 per day. So far, the program has received rave reviews from residents for it’s ease of use, convenience, and cost-effectiveness: “Double Up makes it so much easier to buy healthy food for your family when you’re on a fixed budget,” said Stephanie Chase of Berlin, NH, who utilized the program at Berlin Marketplace. “I always shop at Berlin Marketplace and now it’s a lot easier and more affordable to shop there for fresh fruits and vegetables,” she emphasized.  

The results speak for themselves. From late May through September of this year, NH residents redeemed nearly $18,000 in Double Up Food Bucks over almost 11,000 transactions, and the program shows no signs of slowing down in its popularity. “I actually had two customers who called in the last two days to thank me for this program,” said Paul Rainville Jr,  who manages EM Health Supermarket in Center Harbor, NH. Double Up Food Bucks will be ongoing throughout the winter, ensuring that NH residents can continue to bring home more fresh produce, even in the coldest months.

Double Up Food Buck complements the Granite State Market Match program, which offers a similar matching incentive for customers shopping at farmer’s markets throughout the state. With GSMM, customers receive up to $10 worth of matched foods at participating markets. Having these two program working together throughout the year means that individuals with SNAP can access more benefits, and more nutritious fresh foods, than ever before. With over 106,000 people in New Hampshire receiving SNAP, about 8% of the population could benefit from both of these programs! The expansion of these programs could mean a substantial decrease in the amount of food insecure individuals, hovering at about 9.6% of NH’s total population.

In the meantime, you can support Double Up NH by spreading the word among your friends and by calling on your local grocery stores to ask them to implement this program in their location! A full list of currently-participating stores can be found online - the Fair Food Network remains in conversation with stores in New Hampshire for expansion and is eager to spread and help more residents. We encourage you to contact Liz Alpern, the coordinator for New Hampshire’s program, with any ideas for markets to tap into (ideally independent grocers prioritizing local purchasing).

Double Up New Hampshire has been supported by a number of sources, including a 2018 award to Fair Food Network from the USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program as well as other funders like the Endowment for Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, HNH Foundation, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Samuel P. Pardoe Foundation, as well as “You Have Our Trust” Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.