SANTA FE, N.M., June 8, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association (NMFMA) announced today it received $2.1 million in federal money to expand its Double Up Food Bucks healthy food incentive program over the next four years. Double Up increases the value of SNAP benefits when used for New Mexico-grown produce. (SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.)
"Double Up is an innovative public-private partnership that leverages federal and state funds to bolster families' purchasing power for needed fruits and vegetables. This program ensures that families have access to affordable and nutritious foods while also creating economic opportunities for New Mexico producers. It benefits urban, rural, and tribal communities across our state," said U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-1).
Funding comes from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program. New Mexico provided an additional $390,300 annually, marking the first time a state legislature provided matching funds for such incentives.
State Representatives Larry Larrañaga (R, Albuquerque) and Jimmie Hall (R, Albuquerque), and House Speaker Don Tripp (R, Socorro) were instrumental in getting the measure passed. Additional support comes from partner organizations and foundations across the state.
"This is a vote of confidence to expand a proven success for low-income families and New Mexico's farmers," said Denise Miller, NMFMA executive director.
Funds will be used to expand Double Up to nearly 90 sites across the state including 50 farmers' markets, grocery stores, farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture outlets. In 2016 Double Up is projected to impact 25,000 SNAP shoppers and 800 small farms, stimulating an average of $1.2 million annually in local food sales.
Under the program, when a customer, for example, spends $10 in SNAP benefits on New Mexico-grown produce or other locally produced SNAP-eligible foods, the customer receives an additional $10 credit to spend on more locally grown produce. No daily limits apply at most locations.
Increasing healthy food consumption is crucial in New Mexico, which ranks third in the nation in child food insecurity. Public health data show that low-income residents suffer disproportionately from diet-related diseases exacerbated by a lack of fruits and vegetables.
Double Up plays a crucial role in alleviating food insecurity by boosting the food buying power of low-income families while simultaneously increasing the consumption of nutritious produce, directly benefitting local economies and agricultural producers.
NMFMA launched Double Up at 17 farmers' markets in 2010. In a 2015 FINI-funded pilot, total SNAP sales at the 34 participating farmers' markets increased 195 percent, to $376,000 from $128,000 the previous year. Such resources support New Mexico's small farming communities, where they circulate and have multiplier effects.
New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association is devoted to supporting the state's direct market farmers by educating the public, creating food access, delivering technical assistance, and providing advocacy support.
www.DoubleUpNM.org | www.doubleupnm.org
SOURCE New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association