A $4M appropriation will allow the program to serve 200,000 low-income families, invest in NY farmers, and the ability to secure millions of dollars in Federal funds through the USDA
BUFFALO, NY — State Senators Michelle Hinchey (D-Kingston) and George Borrello (R-Sunset Bay), Assemblyman Demond Meeks (D-Rochester), Assemblyman Angelo Morinello (R-Niagara Falls), Assemblymember Donna Lupardo (D-Binghamton), along with Field & Fork Network, the NYS Farm Bureau, the American Heart Association and other supporting organizations, are calling on the Legislature to support Double Up Food Bucks NY (Double Up), by allocating a $4 million appropriation in the 2023-24 Budget.
Double Up is a statewide nutrition incentive program that partners with local farmers markets, mobile markets, farm stands, corner stores and New York based grocery stores to increase the purchasing power of low-income families to buy fresh local produce.
For the second year in row, the program has received bi-partisan support in both the Senate and Assembly. This is because the benefits cross party lines; supporting the Double Up Food Bucks program means lawmakers are supporting local farmers and small businesses, providing increased access to nutritious options for low-income families, reducing the cost of government health care spending, and growing the economy in communities across the state.
Win for Families
As inflation and food costs continue to rise causing families to struggle to put healthy food on the table, Double Up makes healthy food choices within reach. Double Up is a proven, innovative model that simultaneously delivers health and economic opportunity. The program has helped over 100,000+ SNAP shoppers stretch their food budgets and access nutritious options, generating more than $8.3 million in healthy food sales. Double Up addresses major food-insecurity challenges, like access and affordability, by partnering with stores and markets in areas of high need, to give people the power to choose their own foods.
Since the program launched in 2014, demand has increased year over year; participation grew 107% in the last year alone. The State’s $4 million dollar investment will mean the program can serve an additional 200,000 SNAP shoppers and greatly expand participating locations. The funding also allows the program to scale services and distribute the dollars more equitably through partnerships with large grocery stores and integration with SNAP online grocery providers.
“At the end of this month, 2.8 million NY SNAP households will experience a change to their benefit amounts. That’s because the temporary pandemic-related boost to SNAP benefits, known as emergency allotments (EA), are coming to an end. These emergency allotments have been in place since April 2020 and families have come to rely on them to put food on the table each month. When you couple that with the current economic conditions, many low-income families will struggle to fill that gap. Double Up can be a part of the solution and help fill the gap with healthy locally grown produce. Doubling the current $2 million funding to $4 million means the program can provide a critical resource for these families,” said Lisa French, Co-Founder and Executive Director Field & Fork Network.
Win for New York Farmers
New York farmers, particularly small family run farms, struggle to make ends meet. In 2022, Double Up created new economic opportunities for more than 400 farmers. A state investment would allow the program to invest a projected $700,000 directly into these farms. In addition, participating Double Up retail locations are required to purchase at least 20% of their produce from New York farmers to maintain their eligibility. This additional revenue means farmers can expand their production, buy new equipment, hire new employees—in turn generating growth in the local economy.
“New York Farm Bureau believes in expanding access to locally produced food for all New Yorkers. The Double Up Food Bucks program provides greater value for people in need of assistance while expanding market opportunities for farmers. We thank the governor and the bill’s sponsors for championing the program and look forward to its inclusion once again in the final state budget,” said David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President.
Win for Local Economies
According to a study conducted by Colorado State University, The Economic Contributions of Healthy Food Incentives, healthy food incentive programs lead to powerful returns on investment. The study showed that for every dollar spent in New York State with Double Up, $2.20 goes back into stimulating the local economy. In 2022, Double Up purchases contributed $1.9 million to the NYS economy. A $4 million investment in the program by the state would generate $7M for local economies.
Additionally, Field & Fork Network will use the state investment to leverage federal funds through the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program. Field & Fork Network has successfully leveraged $4.2 million in private funding, bringing in a total of $8.4 million to NYS. For every dollar the state invests in Double Up, Field & Fork Network plans to leverage with an equal $1 match through the USDA’s GusNIP grant; doubling the impact and dollars available for New Yorkers.
As we work together to solve issues as difficult as hunger and the impacts of diet-related disease, the proven solution of Double Up Food Bucks is already at the table. With adequate funding and a significant boost in the federal share of costs that’s possible in the 2023 farm bill, the program is ready to scale its positive impacts for New York farmers, grocers, families experiencing poverty, and communities across the state.
Senator Michelle Hinchey, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “Fighting food insecurity while keeping food dollars local should always go hand in hand, and Double Up Food Bucks is an innovative program that helps communities across our state do just that. I’m proud to champion increased funding for this essential initiative, which ensures SNAP-eligible families can afford the fresh fruits and vegetables at their local grocery store while also delivering direct support to small businesses and New York farmers. Building a food system that works for all New Yorkers must be a fundamental priority, and we’ll be fighting to deliver this increase to help the Double Up program grow to support more families and economies in need.”
Senator George Borrello, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee said, “Double Up Food Bucks is an important bi-partisan initiative that continues to have my strongest support. By providing SNAP-eligible New Yorkers with greater access to fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, this program not only addresses food insecurity, it promotes good health, supports our family farms and keeps food dollars in the community. I look forward to working with the Field & Fork Network and my colleagues in the Legislature to renew our commitment to this innovative nutritional program and those it serves.”
Assemblyman Demond Meeks said, “Accessibility to local and organic foods are fundamental for the most vulnerable members of our community. With rising prices nationwide, families are struggling to acquire essentials. We must take the necessary steps to prevent food insecurity by advocating for reasonable, healthy options for our families. Field & Fork Network continues to play a vital role for residents throughout Upstate New York that don’t have access to healthy food choices. Continued funding will provide direct support to small businesses, farmers, and our local economy. I stand with my colleagues in advocating for Field & Fork Network for their ongoing commitment to the health and welfare of the people of New York State.”
Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, “Field and Fork Network has not only made our communities healthier by giving better access to more fruits and vegetables, but they have also created a new stream of revenue for our local farmers. With the Double Up Program every dollar spent gives more food to the customer and more revenue to the local farmer, keeping more money in our local economy. The Field and Fork Network is the bridge that connects the two, and I am very proud to support this organization.”
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee said, “Double Up Food Bucks stretches food dollars for SNAP-eligible families, while connecting them to healthy and nutritious produce. At the same time, the program benefits NY farmers and small businesses by providing them with additional revenue. I fully support increased funding for this important program which currently receives a 1:1 match from the federal government. Given all of the positive benefits, we should definitely take further advantage of this opportunity.”
Tashara M. Leak, PhD, RD Assistant Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University College of Human Ecology said, “The Cornell University Action Research Collaborative is honored to lead evaluation efforts to measure the impact of the Double Up Program on more than 100,000 New Yorkers that experience food insecurity. This partnership is a prime example of Cornell’s land-grant mission to use research to better the lives of New York residents. New York state’s continued investment in the initiative is critical to increasing the accessibility of healthy, nutritious produce to low-income families.”
Amy Grover, Sports Medicine and Employee Wellness Coordinator at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists, and board member of the American Heart Association in Syracuse said, “Double Up Food Bucks has proven to be the win-win-win we always knew it would be, helping farmers, business owners and SNAP clients. Good health deserves full funding, and when people can buy even more produce than they had planned, it’s easier to improve health. We will continue to advocate for doubling up the funding for this important program, from the $2 million currently in the budget, to $4 million.”