By Janet Goetze
for the Hollywood Star News
Low-income Oregon residents are able to buy more fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets, thanks to a federal grant for a program called “Double Up Food Bucks,” said Ari Rosner, manager of the Hollywood Farmers Market.
Oregonians who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits will have an additional $10 to buy produce instead of $5 from an older program.
Most Oregonians who receive SNAP benefits through the Oregon Trail Card, similar to a debit card, may have the card debited at market information booths in exchange for $1 tokens to use at vendor stalls.
The Farmers Market Fund, an independent 501(c)3 companion organization to the Portland Farmers Market, gained funding to launch Double Up. This includes a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program and $1 million in matching funds from local foundations, corporations and farmers’ markets themselves.
Double Up Food Bucks will help support Oregon’s family farms as it puts food on the table of low-income families, said Trudy Toliver, executive director of the Farmers Market Fund. “It improves the human health and the economic health of our local communities,” she said.
The Farmers Market Fund needed 100 percent local matching funds to gain the federal dollars, but local support exceeded that requirement.
The largest pledge of $175,000 came from the Meyer Memorial Trust. New Seasons Market pledged $90,000. Other supporters include Kaiser Permanente Hospitals, Oregon Food Bank, Portland Farmers Market and numerous farmers markets and food systems around the state.