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Op-Ed: Durham Farmers Market's Double Bucks Program Wants Continued Funding – INDY Week


Because the supervisor of the Durham Farmers’ Market, I’ve had the privilege of assembly and speaking with the numerous households using our Double Bucks Program. The Double Bucks Program incentivizes the acquisition of native meals by doubling SNAP (Supplemental Diet Help Program, previously often known as meals stamps) and Farmers Market Diet Program advantages in addition to offering money for WIC recipients (Particular Supplemental Program for Ladies, Infants, and Kids) and Durham Housing Authority residents at areas corresponding to farmers’ markets. It is a enormous profit for a lot of people and households in our group, particularly as meals prices proceed to rise.

Nevertheless, the way forward for the Double Bucks program within the Triangle is unsure. Present funding is coming to an finish, and until one other funder steps ahead, households who depend on Double Bucks should make do with much less in a time when many households are already struggling to place meals on their tables.

With the acknowledged objective of ending starvation by 2030, the White Home has organized listening periods all through the nation to guage the success of varied meals advantages packages. What they’ve discovered is that these incentive packages like Double Bucks are essential to assuaging starvation.

We hear an analogous sentiment week after week on the farmers’ market. One native instructor described what Double Bucks (DB) means to her: “As a instructor, I can typically discover myself annoyed with the politics of North Carolina. DB feels nearly like a pleasant reward for exhausting work that isn’t economically valued. It makes it simpler to do what I really like and dwell the life I need. I misplaced my job in the course of the pandemic and a buddy prompt I join EBT. I’ve all the time been a farmers’ market attendee, however it hasn’t all the time been probably the most economical selection. With DB, the farmers’ market is my first selection once more for grocery purchasing.”

Durham and Orange Counties have one of many strongest, most progressive Double Bucks packages within the nation. This system, which began in 2013, now runs at 11 native farmers’ markets. In 2021 alone, this system introduced in about $232,000 to the economic system from six markets and helped nicely over 400 households put meals on their tables in Durham alone. And it continues to develop; markets noticed an 81 p.c enhance in prospects purchasing with Double Bucks within the 2020–2021 market season. With correct funding, there are a lot of extra SNAP recipients and native farmers who can profit from this program.

Teams such because the American Coronary heart Affiliation, Rural Development Basis Worldwide–USA, Durham County Division of Public Well being, and Durham County Cooperative Extension are working tirelessly to seek out funders so households and farmers will proceed to learn.

We’re seeing public investments of the Double Bucks program everywhere in the nation; that is what ensures sustainability to those impactful packages. One potential funding supply is the American Rescue Program Funds that Durham Metropolis and County each acquired. Many different municipalities are utilizing ARPA to fund their group’s incentive packages. Different potentialities embody allocating native authorities income, personal sector funding, and particular person donations. Nevertheless it’s funded, the Triangle wants to return collectively to make sure that this system that has helped so many continues to help our farmers and assist households thrive.

Within the phrases of a buyer, “On Social Safety earnings, I can’t afford to eat non-processed meals. The Double Bucks have been a free reward of extra meals, much less despair, and possibly an extended and happier life. With the ability to really feel like part of society and serving to to help native farmers undoubtedly reduces a few of the stress of relative poverty.” 

Editor’s observe: An earlier model of this op-ed referred to the Double Bucks program as being a part of the Durham Meals Financial institution. It’s a program of the Durham Farmers Market. 

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