116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Opinion / Guest Columnists
Double Up Food Bucks puts fresh food on Iowa plates
Feb. 6, 2023 6:00 am
It seems like we hear it every time we turn on the news – prices of food are rising and during these difficult economic times, Iowans are struggling with food insecurity. These rising food prices may force low-income Iowans to make the difficult choice between healthier, more expensive foods like fresh fruit and vegetables, or stretching dollars to accommodate additional needs.
There is a solution that would help – Double Up Food Bucks, which provides the extra dollars needed to help Iowa families access nutritious, healthy food options.
Double Up Food Bucks is a statewide nutrition incentive program that partners with local farmers markets and Iowa-based grocery stores to increase the purchasing power of low-income families to buy fresh produce.
This program is not a complicated or convoluted safety net program. Instead, it directly addresses food insecurity and nutrition by putting dollars in the hands of Iowans who need them and directing them towards the purchase of healthy, fresh food at Iowa-owned businesses.
Not only does it benefit those who are hungry and in need of nutritious food, it benefits our local economies and farmers. For every $1 SNAP and Double Up Food Buck spent, $1.90 goes back into the local economy. That equates to more than $7.6 million of economic impact since launching in 2016. Better still, 100 percent of the funding is spent locally and not at big box retailers.
In 2021, more than 173,000 Iowans used Double Up Food Bucks, across 67 counties and 142 different locations on more than 2.7 million servings of produce. This was a significant increase over the previous year.
To continue supporting these efforts and providing low-income families with nutritious food, the Double Up Food Bucks program needs investment from the Iowa Legislature during the 2023 legislative session. With a small investment from the state, the Double Up Food Bucks program can leverage money from the federal government and private donations to be spent at Iowa farmers markets, food cooperatives, and Iowa-owned grocery stores, and provide more than 2.5 million extra servings of fruits and vegetables to Iowa families.
This is not a government handout. Instead, supporting the Double Up Food Bucks program means lawmakers are supporting local farmers and Iowa businesses, providing better nutrition options for low-income Iowans, reducing the cost of government health care spending, and growing the economy in small town communities across the state.
I hope Iowa lawmakers will consider investing in the Double Up Food Bucks program in 2023.
Jami Haberl is executive director at the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative, where she leads efforts to create awareness and integrate solutions to improve the physical, social and mental well-being of Iowans.
Opinion content represents the viewpoint of the author or The Gazette editorial board. You can join the conversation by submitting a letter to the editor or guest column or by suggesting a topic for an editorial to firstname.lastname@example.org