Across the nation, farmers markets are becoming increasingly popular. And that’s a good thing both for the farmers selling their products and for the buyers who are bypassing highly processed food and choosing the healthier option of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has found a way to add even more value through the expansion of its “Double Dollars” program, which allows Kentuckians receiving government nutritional assistance to double their spending power if they shop at local farmers markets. “Double Dollars” means that families receiving assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), or the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) are able to double their spending power (up to $10 per day) by shopping at farmers markets.
“Farmers markets using the Double Dollars program see an average increase in sales of 32 percent,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “And, of course, that increase in sales goes directly into the pockets of Kentucky’s farmers, who then spend that money at local stores and businesses. That’s a direct economic benefit for our farming communities, and the program also helps us address hunger and access to fresh food for Kentucky families.”
The Double Dollars program began with just six markets in 2014. This year, 26 Kentucky farmers markets across the state are offering the program. Surveys of Double Dollars users showed that people using the program felt they were eating a lot more fruits and vegetables and felt more educated about healthy eating.
“You’ve heard of BOGO – buy one, get one – this is BOGO for your health,” said Kelly Munson, senior vice president of WellCare, which has repeatedly contributed to Community Farm Alliance to help administer and promote the Double Dollars program. “We know healthier people not only save money on healthcare but are better able to obtain or retain employment. This program helps Kentucky families in the most straightforward way possible – by putting healthy food on the table.”