Starting this Friday, the Dearborn Farmers Market will offer visitors one more reason to come back each week: Aside from live demonstrations, foods and activities, the market will also now offer the opportunity for Bridge Card users with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to receive twice the fresh fruits and veggies.
The Dearborn Farmers Market is one of 46 markets participating in the Fair Food Network’s Double Up Food Bucks program.
Dearborn Chamber of Commerce market coordinator Joan Reed said her team made the decision to try to join the program as part of its community outreach efforts.
“We’ve taken the step to be involved and to be able to have people who don’t have the means come from any food assistance programs,” Reed said. “We’re really reaching out to the community as much as we can.”
The program, which is run largely on private and community foundation donations, works when Bridge Card users visit participating farmers markets. There, for every $2 spent, shoppers received $2 worth of bonus tokens to be spent on Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.
It's a win-win for Michigan farmers and families in need: The former receives a new form of support for their local growing efforts, while the latter is presented with a way to add more fresh, organic produce to their diets.
Double Up Food Bucks program manager Rachel Chadderdon explained how the card works at the markets, since many vendors only accept cash.
“(Users) go to a central location, swipe their card and ask for a certain amount to be deducted–say $10–and the market will give them either tokens or a paper script,” Chadderdon said. “Then they spend that like cash with the vendors.
“So at the same time they’re asking for those tokens, they’re also given for free the Double Up Bucks.”
Bridge Card users can receive up to $20 in tokens per visit, meaning $20 of extra lettuce, apples, strawberries, cucumbers–whatever tickles their fancy, as long as it’s locally grown produce.
“The Double Up Food Bucks tokens are only good for fresh fruits and vegetables from Michigan,” Chadderdon said. “You can spend the Bridge Card tokens on the coffee and baked goods and things like that, but you can’t spend the Double Up Food Bucks on those.”
SNAP eligibility to Bridge Card users is granted through the Michigan Department of Human Services through the MI Bridges program. For more information, or to apply, call 1-800-MIBRIDG, or visit their website.
For more information on the Double Up Food Bucks program, call 1-866-586-2796, or visit their website.
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