After a new state law expanded eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the program formerly known as food stamps, more Nebraskans could start receiving food assistance as early as this week, and a growing number of food producers and farmer’s markets are hoping some of those federal dollars will end up in their pockets.
Eric Savaiano, economic justice program manager for Nebraska Appleseed, said the incentive program known as Double Up Food Bucks is a great way for families to access locally grown, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to fuel kids’ summer activities.
“The Double Up Food Bucks is part of the SNAP program that allows participants to go to local farmer’s markets and retailers and double their money,” Savaiano explained. “They can spend up to $20 and get $40 worth of produce.”
Last session, lawmakers expanded eligibility for SNAP to eliminate the so-called cliff effect, where workers who get small pay increases lose hundreds of dollars in food assistance. Agencies can now consider expenses including child care when assessing need.
For assistance navigating the enrollment process for SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks, call the Food Bank of the Heartland toll-free at 855-444-5556.
Savaiano pointed out getting more eligible Nebraskans enrolled in SNAP will not only put healthy food on more family tables, it can help state and local economies rebound from the economic fallout of COVID-19. Every federal tax dollar returning to Nebraska in SNAP benefits generates as much as $1.80 in economic activity, money that supports local grocery stores and farmers.
“We know that SNAP is a great program to support folks experiencing food insecurity, but it is also a great program to help with the economic recovery associated with the pandemic,” Savaiano emphasized.
Farmers and other food producers can also sign up for the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Programs for Seniors and Women, Infants and Children through the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
Older residents and families with children can get coupons to buy locally grown food exclusively at produce stands certified by the agency. The programs also ensure farmers get fair market prices for their goods.