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Double Your Dollar program extends to Pandemic EBT recipients at NWA farmers markets
Program includes Pandemic EBT, SNAP and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
By Fred Miller – July 20, 2020
DOUBLE YOUR DOLLARS — A program of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Northwest Arkansas Farmers Market Alliance helps SNAP, Sr-FMNP and Pandemic EBT recipients to extend their buying power at local farmers markets. (U of A System Division of Agriculture photo by Fred Miller)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The 2020 Double Your Dollar program helps people on food assistance programs stretch their food budgets at northwest Arkansas farmers markets.
The program has helped participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program since 2012, said Heather Friedrich, Northwest Arkansas Farmers Market Alliance facilitator and a program manager for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
This year, the Double Your Dollar program will also assist recipients of Pandemic EBT, a federal program for families of children who usually receive free or low-cost school lunches.
This summer, the NWAFMA in partnership with the Division of Agriculture and the University of Arkansas for Medical sciences will provide recipes and short online cooking demonstration videos, Friedrich said. These provide detailed instructions for preparing nutritious and affordable meals with foods available at the farmers market.
Also, free monthly “Cook-Along” sessions are designed for participants to cook along at home with a local chef via the Zoom web conferencing platform, she said.
Boosting buying power
NWAFMA and the Division of Agriculture launched Double Your Dollar in 2012, Freidrich said. The Walmart Foundation has supported the program since its inception.
“The Double Your Dollar program helps people purchase more nutritious, locally grown food,” Friedrich said. “It helps families and farmers in the area.”
The farms represented at farmers markets are small businesses, Friedrich said. “They are an important part of the local economy and food system.”
Through the program, market managers provide matching tokens for up to a one-to-one dollar match to SNAP, Sr-FMNP and Pandemic EBT participants who use their program funds for food purchases at participating farmers markets. The coupons can be used like cash at that market to purchase additional food items, including fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, dairy, jams, jellies, bread and food-producing plants, Friedrich said.
The Double Your Dollar project works with farmers markets in Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers, Downtown Rogers, Siloam Springs, Gravette and Springdale, and The Food Conservancy.
Participants exchange their EBT funds or Sr-FMNP coupons for market tokens from the local farmers market manager, Friedrich said. At that time, they will also receive a matching amount of Double Your Dollar coupons, which can be spent like money at that market.
SNAP, Sr-FMNP and Pandemic EBT are U.S. Department of Agriculture programs to assist food-insecure persons, Friedrich said. SNAP and Pandemic EBT participants receive an emergency benefit transfer card that they use like a debit card. The Sr-FMNP is administered locally through the Northwest Arkansas Area Agency on Aging. Program coupons were distributed in May.
Double Your Dollars is a program of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Northwest Arkansas Farmers Market Alliance to encourage SNAP and Sr-FMNP recipients to shop local farmers markets. (Division of Agriculture photo by Fred Miller)
Ozark Natural Foods supports and co-sponsors the “Cook-Along” demonstrations once a month in July through September, Friedrich said. “These Cook-Alongs will highlight local foods in economical and culturally diverse recipes.
“Chef Heather Artripe, community outreach coordinator with ONF, is launching our cook-alongs in July with a ‘Keeping Cool in the Kitchen’ session,” Friedrich said. “She’ll be preparing a meal that requires little or no heat.”
Jennyfer Quijada, a student chef from Brightwater, is leading the August session, Friedrich said. “This class will take place in the evening and will be bilingual in Spanish and English. Jennyfer will cook foods that feature her Hispanic culture.” The September Cook-Along session will be presented by either a Marshallese or Hmong chef who will prepare a dish representing that culture, she said.
Registration and details on dates and times for the “Cook-Along” sessions can be found on the Double Your Dollar Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ArkansasMarketSnap.
Friedrich said this is the ninth year the Walmart Foundation is supporting the Double Your Dollar project. “The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Access to Healthy Foods group is also a key partner, leading our outreach efforts,” she said.
“The Jones Center for Families plays an important fiscal role with the markets,” Friedrich said.
NWAFMA is taking steps to ensure that its farmers markets are safe places to shop during the COVID-19 pandemic, Friedrich said.
“Northwest Arkansas farmers markets are outdoors, which medical experts have suggested is safer than indoor venues,” Friedrich said. “Also, the markets require the use of masks by vendors and customers, per Arkansas Department of Health mandate, have hand washing and sanitation stations, and are enforcing social distancing requirements.”
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.