U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grantees through the Food Insecurity Nutritional Incentive (FINI) Program and the City of Madison was named as one of the grantees, receiving $93,055 to support the Double Dollars matching incentive program for Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) participants at farmers’ markets.
The grant funds will go directly to program participants in the form of a dollar-for-dollar matching incentive at farmers’ markets. The grant funds will allow the Double Dollars Program to expand to the flagship Dane County Farmers’ Market and several other smaller markets in the City and County. The grant will also be responsible for a new, exciting partnership with the Willy Street Co-op to establish a similar incentive program at their stores. The pilot program will begin in October.
“It is an honor to be recognized by the USDA through the granting of critical funds to our Double Dollars Program,” said Mayor Paul Soglin. “This expansion will allow us to reach more people that are in need of affordable, fresh, and local food and will help broaden the safety net by addressing the seasonality issue by bringing Willy Street Co-op on board.”
The Double Dollars program is gearing up for the fourth year of operation at several area farmers’ markets. The City of Madison and Dane County provide operating funds to the Community Action Coalition For South Central Wisconsin Inc. (CAC) to administer the program. UW Health, Unity Point Health-Meriter, Dean/St.Mary’s, Group Health Cooperative (GHC), CUNA Mutual Foundation and Madison Area Chef’s Network all support the matching incentive program locally. Additionally, Wholesome Wave supports the incentive program through a grant on the national level.
“We appreciate the assistance through USDA to expand this essential program,” said CAC Executive Director Fred Schnook. “The economic recovery has not reached hundreds of families in Dane County and this program will assist us in reaching individuals and families that continue to be gripped by poverty.”
The program has grown each year, reaching hundreds and hundreds of new users. Last year, the program expanded to the El Mercadito de Centro in South Madison and the Monona Farmers’ Market. The expansion to the Dane County Farmers’ Market will allow the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country to begin offering the incentive.
“We are pleased to support CAC and the Double Dollars Program,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “The grant funds will be key to expanding into areas of need throughout Dane County.”
One challenge in expanding the Double Dollars program is the limited season and offerings that farmers’ markets provide. The partnership with Willy Street Co-op affords an opportunity to pilot this type of incentive in a grocery setting, perhaps reaching new customers.
“Access to affordable, healthy, and responsibly grown food is important to every individual,” said Anya Firszt, General Manager of the Willy Street Co-op. “We are excited to work with so many great partners to deliver a new incentive to our customers.”
The Double Dollars program will begin on Sunday July 3rd at participating farmers’ markets on the north side, south side, east side, west side, downtown, El Mercado de Centro, and Monona. The incentive program for SNAP and Access Discount participants at the Willy Street Cooperative locations will begin in October. More details will be released closer to the start date.