Fort Worth, Texas — A new food initiative aims to help North Texas SNAP users take advantage of healthier food options just in time for the holiday season.
Double Up Food Bucks is a collaborative effort between Blue Zones Project Fort Worth and North Texas Healthy Communities. The program allows low-income families eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to enjoy fresh fruits and veggies for half the price they would normally pay at the Farmers Market.
Cowtown Farmers Market, located in southwest Fort Worth, debuted The Double Up Food Bucks program in May of this year.
Farmers like power-couple Laura and Charlie Blaylock take pride in the fact that Cowtown has implemented the initiative.
The two own Shine’s Farmstand and you can find them most weekends selling fresh veggies like their beloved Japanese turnips “They’re amazingly sweet, and tender, and delicious!” said Charlie Blaylock when asked what he was growing this fall.
They’re both very passionate about the Double Up Food Bucks program since it aims to fight an increase in food insecurity.
Both Laura and Charlie Blaylock grew up in low-income families and know the struggles that come when the quality of food put on the table is directly linked to the amount of money earned.
“I use to depend on food banks when I was younger, and depend on free food, and soup kitchens, and that sort of thing,” said Laura Blaylock. “I know what it’s like, and I know that’s there’s no fault in needing to ask for help.”
It had been a mission of Charlie Blaylock’s for years to get Cowtown SNAP certified so shoppers could take advantage of their SNAP savings at the market. His goal is to better serve those in Fort Worth living in food deserts which are urban areas where it’s difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food.
“All farmers would love to give it away for free, if we could afford it the rest of our lives,” said Charlie Blaylock. “But, that’s not the case so we’re glad that we can provide food to everybody who wants it and need it.”
One of those shoppers taking advantage of the program as a SNAP shopper is 30-year-old Danielle Orman.
“Where else can you get local produce and basically half off,” said Orman. “I don’t know that I would be able to afford it without snap so using the double-up program has been just a joy being able to come to the farmer’s market every weekend and know that it’s not hurting my bank account.”
The fresh produce found at local farmer’s markets tends to be more expensive and can usually only be found at a higher end grocery store compared to discount grocery stores.
Orman is thankful she’s able to shop stress free. She says it’s important for those in need of assistance to know their options when it comes to government assistance
“It was surprisingly easy,” said Orman. “I actually was automatically enrolled when I tried to apply for Obamacare and they noticed that my income was low on my taxes and enrolled me and really did the build of the work, all I had to do was agree to a meeting.”
In the last eight months since social distancing has become the norm, the Blaylock’s have seen an increase in first-time shoppers at the market, some of those SNAP users.
“We’ve had more people come to the farmer’s market because of the pandemic,” said Charlie Blaylock. “Because you can shop outside, you don’t have to go through doors, you’re not using the same shopping carts as other people, so we all feel it inherently safer to be shopping outside so we’ve had an increase in customers in general that also carried over into our snap program as well.”
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