Accessing fresh produce

Co-op program to help Double Up Food Bucks

Sarah MONTE

MARQUETTE — During the month of May, Marquette Food Co-op shoppers will have the opportunity to support their neighbors by “Rounding Up at the Register” for Double Up Food Bucks.

Since Wednesday cashiers have been asking customers to round their shopping total to the next full dollar, with proceeds benefiting the co-op’s DUFB program.

When customers use their Bridge card at the MFC, they receive a $1 voucher for every $1 they spend on fresh produce, up to $20 per day. The vouchers they receive can only be used to purchase fresh produce during future shopping trips, essentially doubling their spending power for fruits and vegetables.

Funding for DUFB from the program administrator changes every year due to demand across the state, and the amount the local co-op is set to receive in 2019 is far less than what is needed to sustain it at its current level.

The co-op, with the help of its shoppers, is working to raise supplemental funds to support DUFB at the store.

All money raised through Round Up at the Register in May will be distributed to participants in the form of DUFB vouchers that enable them to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

“We love the fact that Double Up Food Bucks specifically supports food access through the purchase of produce, giving consumers the ability to make healthy decisions for themselves and their families,” Sarah Monte, MFC outreach director, said in a press release. “We want to see this program continue and know that our wonderful community will come together to make that happen.”

Why is Double Up Food Bucks important? Diet-related disease disproportionally affects people of low income. The cost and shorter shelf life of fresh produce makes it less attractive for those with limited means. DUFB directly addresses this issue by increasing the amount of money they have available to spend on produce, incentivizing the healthy choice. Participants can only spend their Double Up Bucks on fresh produce, so the increase in their available funds is guaranteed to be used for healthy food choices. Additionally, since the Double Up Bucks are earned by the dollars they choose to spend on fresh produce, it encourages the purchase of produce using the original SNAP benefit dollars.

Last year, the co-op — the first and only grocery store in the U.P. to offer the program — distributed $12,936 in vouchers to participating shoppers.