As temperatures begin to drop and fall fades into winter, another farmers’ market season has come to a close for much of Colorado. It was an especially fruitful season for the producers, markets, and low-income clients who participated in Double Up Food Bucks Colorado, a program led by LiveWell Colorado that increases access to Colorado-grown fruits and vegetables for participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) while benefiting local farmers and the economy. The program launched in July 2016 with nearly 40 local food retailers across 20 counties. (For more information about the program, please visit DoubleUpColorado.org, and watch this video to see how Double Up is already making a difference in Colorado.)
Double Up Food Bucks would not exist—much less be such a success—without the support of our more than 50 partners across the state. Below we highlight two of our critical partners in 2016, First Southwest Bank and Where Food Comes From.
First Southwest Bank
First Southwest Bank provided match funds that enabled four San Luis Valley food distribution centers to participate in the Double Up program—two seasonal farmers markets in Alamosa and South Fork, and two year-round markets, Valley Food Co-op and Fourth Street Food Store.
“Low-income members of our community are often only able to afford cheap processed foods,” says Liza Marron, Executive Director of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition. “This initiative allowed them to get and eat healthy, locally-produced fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, all four participating markets have seen an increase in revenue and SNAP clientele, and it’s been great for our local farmers too,” Marron says.
First Southwest Bank CEO Kent Curtis echoes those sentiments. “The Double Up program is a win-win for all involved,” he says. First Southwest Bank is designated as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), a certification from the United States Treasury for banks that provide services to underserved communities. “Because we’re a CDFI bank we are able to support a variety of important community programs in ways that most banks can’t,” Curtis says.
Marron can certainly attest to that. “Big institutions don’t usually support this work, so we’re so grateful to have an amazing partner like First Southwest Bank. The Double Up program truly wouldn’t have been possible in our community without their support,” she says.
Where Food Comes From
Where Food Comes From is an independent, third-party food verification company that strives to provide authentic and transparent information about the food we eat and how, where, and by whom it is produced.
“Learning about the Double Up Food Bucks program really hit home for me,” says CEO John Saunders. “We work with these amazing ranches in just gorgeous countryside. Then you go to the nearest town and many kids don’t have enough to eat. You see these disparities and it just doesn’t match up with what folks think Colorado is all about,” he says.
Double Up was seen as a unique opportunity for the company to contribute in a meaningful way to those Colorado families struggling to afford healthy food. “Who doesn’t want to give a hungry child something good to eat?” Saunders says. “Being on the food producing side, what else can we do that is more important?”
For more information about Double Up Food Bucks Colorado, including current participating markets and a complete list of partners, please visit DoubleUpColorado.org. And watch this video to see how Double Up is making a difference in other Colorado communities.