Double Up Food Bucks program helping low income families

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Low-income families will be able to bring home more healthy foods by doubling dollars EBT users spend on locally grown produce.

The Double Up Food Bucks program is hoping to make healthy and fresh food more accessible to those who might not typically be able to afford it.

"I would see people who can`t buy that stuff because it`s expensive, even when we have them on sale," says Zaid Alsaid, who works at Price Chopper.

He says it's upsetting to see people coming in wanting to buy healthy, fresh food, but can't afford it.

"You see it every day," Alsaid adds.

Elected officials and program partners met at Price Chopper today to discuss the Double Up Food Bucks program.

"It helps low income families get access to healthy foods, it helps local farmers to sell more of their harvest, and it keeps more money in the local economy," says David Warm, the Executive Director Of the Mid-America Regional Council.

The program started in Detroit in 2009.

"One of the first pilots to do a double up incentive program in grocery stores, and the second place in the United States for that to happen is right here in Kansas City," says Oran Hesterman, the President and CEO of Fair Food Network, the non-profit organization that launched the Double Up Food Program first in Detroit.

There are pilot stores on both sides of the state line, and they're hoping to expand even more.

"By helping some of our citizens who need the most help to stretch their grocery store dollar even further," says Mark Holland, the Mayor/CEO of Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas.

Mayor Holland says the poor need more opportunities to better serve their families.

"Instead of shunning the poor, and instead of embarrassing the poor, and humiliating the poor with unrealistic expectations about how they receive their food and benefits," Mayor Holland adds.

This program will give people more access to fresh, healthy food.

Fair Food Network received special approval from USDA to pilot Double Up Kansas City at Ball's Price Chopper stores, making it one of the first grocers in the country to offer healthy food incentives to SNAP clients.

"They can earn up to $25 worth of food produce by buying the designated local produce that we have...$25 in a day...and that benefit doesn't expire, they can redeem that much of any kind of produce in our store between whenever they redeem it and the end of the year," says Mike Beal, the Chief Operating Officer of Ball’s Foods.

One area farmer, Brent Brashears, says the food comes right from their farm, into refrigerated trucks, then heads to the market.

"That level of freshness is typically not the most affordable level of freshness...and with a program like double bucks it is," Brashears says.

Alsaid says he's just happy something is being done to help people like his mother in law.

"This program really helped a lot, she still saves money until the end of the month," says Alsaid.

Hesterman says since starting here in July -- there's been a 70% growth in the redemption of Double Up Food Bucks -- more than anywhere they've seen yet.

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