Jefferson County, Colo. — When you wander between rows of leafy lettuce, scraggly radishes and smooth, dark green cucumbers, you may have to remind yourself that it’s pavement under your feet, not fresh-tilled soil at a farm. As you see the first cherries of the season toppling out of their baskets, their sweet smell hitting you before you even bite one, it may be hard to remember that you’re in the middle of a city, not the middle of a field.
It’s farmers market season in Jefferson County, and Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) wants everyone in the county to be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and health benefits of the market, regardless of budget. That’s why JCPH partners with farmers markets across the county to help them accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, previously known as food stamps, and support market involvement in the Double Up Food Bucks Program.
The Double Up Food Bucks Program is a statewide partnership led by LiveWell Colorado, a local Denver non-profit. Double Up allows SNAP shoppers to bring home more fresh, Colorado-grown fruits and vegetables. When a customer spends a SNAP dollar on any eligible item at a participating farmers market — like meat, bread, eggs, milk or produce — they receive a dollar to spend on a Colorado-grown fruit or vegetable at the market. During each trip to the market, SNAP shoppers can receive up to $20 in extra fresh fruits and vegetables they may not otherwise have been able to afford.
“We know that the Double Up Food Bucks program helps those who need it most get more, higher-quality food. In 2017, 87 percent of Colorado program participants said they eat more fruits and vegetables directly because of Double Up Food Bucks,” said Jenna Metzinger, Farmers Market SNAP Coordinator at Jefferson County Public Health. “It really is a win-win-win, because it helps provide more healthy food for those in need, puts more money into our local farmers’ pockets and it boosts our local economy.”
Since select farmers markets in Jefferson County started accepting SNAP in 2015, and started participating in Double Up Food Bucks in 2016, public participation in the program has grown substantially. In 2016, a total of $3,923 total SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks dollars were spent at participating Jefferson County locations. In 2017, that number was $20,225 with eight locations participating in Double Up and one participating in SNAP only. This year, there are 13 locations participating in the Double Up Food Bucks program. Between the increase in available markets and the increase in public knowledge of the Double Up Food Bucks program, Metzinger said the total amount of participation is only expected to grow in 2018.
“The great thing about farmers markets accepting SNAP dollars is that it really allows those who need it most in our community to have an equal chance at health,” Metzinger said. “When it comes down to it, that’s something we can all get behind.”
Currently, three farmers markets — Four Seasons Farmers and Artisans Market, Southwest Plaza Farmers Market and Star Acre Farms — are open in Jefferson County, and the rest will be opening in early-mid June.
For a list of all the Jefferson County Farmers Markets participating in Double Up Food Bucks and SNAP and information about their opening dates, please visit http://www.healthyjeffco.com/snap-at-jeffco-farmers-markets.
To find a Double Up Food Bucks Market near you, or to learn more about the program, please text your zip code to 1-844-383-2399, or visit https://doubleupcolorado.org/.
About Jefferson County Public Health
Public health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our neighborhoods and communities. Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is committed to promoting and protecting health across the lifespan through prevention, education and partnerships for all people. To learn more about JCPH, visit https://www.jeffco.us/public-health. You can also follow JCPH on Twitter @JeffcoPH and Facebook @jeffcopublichealth.