By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Oklahomans participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be able to double the fresh fruits and vegetables they purchase at the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC) Farmers Market without increasing the amount they spend beginning July 1.
The OSU-OKC Famers Market has been chosen to participate in the Double Up Oklahoma (DUO) program that provides a financial incentive for Oklahoma families receiving SNAP benefits to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
The DUO program will match the value of SNAP purchases of fresh Oklahoma grown produce at participating farmers’ markets. Each market day the program will match dollar-for-dollar, up to $20 per day, the SNAP money spent on produce purchases.
“I foresee the Double Up Oklahoma program having a huge impact on our community,” said Hallie Williams, OSU-OKC Farmers Market manager. “The OSU-OKC Farmers Market has been providing our community with the freshest and most nutritious produce grown right here in Oklahoma for more than 20 years.
“Now, SNAP customers will have more buying power by literally doubling their dollars to purchase fruits and vegetables,” Williams added. “Double Up Oklahoma is a win-win for everyone.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded a Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant to the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa (CSC) to increase fruit and vegetable consumption through the DUO program.
CSC administers the DUO program with support from several community foundations and service organizations.
OSU-OKC is one of nine Oklahoma markets participating during the program’s first year. It will offer a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, or food-bearing plants that were grown in Oklahoma to customers using the DUO and SNAP programs.
The CSC expects many Oklahoma families will benefit from the program, since approximately one-third of Oklahoma SNAP recipients reside in the areas served by the participating farmers’ markets.
“OSU-OKC is proud to be involved with this innovative approach to supporting our community,” Williams said. “We hope this program will help us impact hundreds of families.”
Featuring Oklahoma Grown and made products from more than 30 vendors, OSU-OKC’s Farmers Market allows local farmers, food producers and artisans to provide consumers with fresh foods, seasonal produce, certified organic products, and a variety of handmade skincare and craft items.
In 2016, Double Up Food Bucks programs will be active in 18 states at farmers markets, farm stands, CSAs, grocery stores, and other retail locations.
With its established and uniform design, central administration, and local implementation, the Double Up program reduces the burden placed on local partners and has proven successful in a variety of markets in urban, rural, and suburban communities.
In Oklahoma Double Up programs are also available at the Guthrie Farmers Market, Muskogee Farmers Market, Norman Farm Market, Okmulgee Farmers Market, Owasso Farmers Market, R & G Family Grocer, Tahlequah Farmers Market and the Tulsa Farmers Market.
Located at 400 N. Portland in Oklahoma City, the OSU-OKC Farmers Market is open Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Saturday market is open year-round while the Wednesday market runs through early fall.