It’s farmers market season in Colorado and now more than ever, Jefferson County’s lower income families will have better access to fresh and healthy foods. This year, Jefferson County Public …
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It’s farmers market season in Colorado and now more than ever, Jefferson County’s lower income families will have better access to fresh and healthy foods.
This year, Jefferson County Public Health has partnered with 13 farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture locations to participate in the Double Up Food Bucks program.
“We know that the Double Up Food Bucks program helps those who need it most get more, higher-quality food,” said Jenna Metzinger, the health department’s farmers market SNAP coordinator. “It really is a win-win-win, because it helps provide more healthy food for those in need, puts more money into our local farmers’ pockets and it boosts our local economy.”
Double Up Food Bucks Colorado is a program where people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, previously known as food stamps, can get extra fresh produce for every dollar spent on eligible items. Double Up Food Bucks allows SNAP recipients to have their purchase matched with a voucher worth up to $20 per visit.
When a person spends a SNAP dollar on any eligible item at a participating farmers market — meat, bread, eggs, milk or produce, they receive another dollar to spend on Colorado-grown fruits or vegetables at the market. Eligible items include all Colorado-grown produce and vegetables but not prepared food. So, for example, Metzinger said, a person can buy coffee in bulk to make in the home, but not a cup of coffee to drink while shopping.
In 2015, a few Jeffco farmers markets started accepting SNAP and in 2016, they started accepting Double Up Food Bucks. Last year, nine locations accepted SNAP, and eight of those participated in Double Up Food Bucks.
Metzinger expects the amount of participation to grow, she said, as more people learn about the program and more markets get involved.
Everybody needs to eat so it’s important that everybody has access to fresh and healthy food, said Marion Kalb, the food systems coordinator at Jefferson County Public Health.
A person or family who does not have access to adequate, nutritious food because of a lack of money or other resources are at risk for numerous physical and mental health consequences, Kalb said. These can include chronic diseases and complications related to improper nutrition vitamin or nutrient deficiencies and adverse mental health issues, among other problems, she said.
“Without a healthy, nutritious diet, people are at risk for a whole host of health problems,” Kalb said. “If we can help make sure everyone is on the same playing field when it comes to food, we can get one step closer to making sure everyone is healthier overall.”
Achieving better health overall through Double Up Food Bucks has proven to work, Metzinger said. Last year, 75 percent of people with SNAP said they shopped at farmers markets because of the Double Up Food Bucks. In addition, 88 percent said they bought more fruits and vegetables because of Double Up Food Bucks and 87 percent said they ate more fruits and vegetables because of the program, Metzinger said.
“The great thing about farmers markets accepting SNAP dollars (and Double Up) is that it really allows those who need it most in our community to have an equal chance at health,” Metzinger said. “When it comes down to it, that’s something we can all get behind.”
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