Double Up Food Bucks program doubles savings for some customers at local farmers markets

Heather Carter fills out paperwork to give Deborah Peterson her $10 discount on her purchase at the Cedar City Farmers Market. Cedar City, Aug.15, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — For some Utah families, eating fresh fruits and vegetables became doubly important this month.

The Double Up Food Bucks program returned this month for the fourth year. The program allows low-income families to purchase $20 worth of food for $10 at more than 20 local farmers markets in Utah, including St. George and Cedar City.

Tara Daniels, manager of the Cedar City Farmers Market, chats with vendor Lindy Robinson, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 15, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

Funding for the program, which extends through October, was approved the first part of August and this will be the third weekend it is available to consumers.

The Double Up Food Bucks program is only good at local farmers markets or farm stands and $10 of the purchase must be for Utah-grown or made products.

While a dozen or more vendors use the Double Up program at the St. George farmers market, only one uses the program in Cedar City.

Tara Daniels, who manages the Cedar City market, said bureaucratic red tape kept her from establishing the program for the entire farmers market.

“I tried to get the paperwork completed but they blocked me from completing it in time because I wasn’t the authorized vendor,” she said. “We would love to have had it for our people.”

The market is owned by real estate developer Steve Nelson and not affiliated with any Cedar City government agency. The market is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesday evenings from 4-7 p.m.

Nature Hills Farms in Cedar City is the only vendor providing the Double Up program because its authorization is registered as a farm stand.

Winfred Barlow chats with a customer at his booth at the St. George Farmers Market, St. George, Utah, Aug. 11, 2018 | Photo by Ryan Rees, St. George News

“I signed up as a farm stand, not as a market,” Heather Carter said. “I use the program at our farm and here.”

Unlike the St. George vendors, Carter uses the customer’s EBT card instead of $1 tokens that are used as cash.

“If they buy $20 worth of produce, we just subtract $10 off the price, if they show their EBT card,”

Deborah Peterson purchased $28 worth of products from Carter last Wednesday night and used her EBT card.

Carter filled out a form that gave Peterson her $10 discount.

“Isn’t this something? Look at all this food,” Peterson said opening a large paper bag.

The Double Up program hasn’t created any price increase for Carter’s products. “That’s a non-factor for us,” she said.

“We get reimbursed by the state, to a certain level,” she added. “We could probably do more as a market vendor but that didn’t work out.”

The downtown market is open near Main Street and Center Street. A smaller Saturday market is open a the Cal-Ranch Store, but its offerings are not always native to Utah.

Carter said the market has been down a bit this year, but blamed it on the fact the market has changed locations three years in a row.

“It’s taking a little time for people to find us I guess,” she said.

The St. George market is located at Ancestor Square on Main Street downtown with a variety of produce vendors, arts and crafts and live music.

“It’s the best thing. I’m glad they brought it back,” Nicole Bullock said last Saturday at the St. George market. “It’s neat to see the kids come up with their tokens and see what they can get for them. It’s been great for us.”

“It’s been really good. It’s a nice option for some people,” said Winford “Finney” Barlow of Finney Farm in Hildale. “It’s given people an option to come to the farmers market where they can get some good, wholesome food.”

“It’s good for a lot of people,” said Donny Terpstra, who was offering produce from Schoal Creek Berries. “It’s an opportunity for people to get something to eat that’s good for you.”

The program is funded through matching funds from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) and support from Get Healthy Utah and the Utah Department of Health.

According to Utahns Against Hunger, more than 2,000 households used the program last year.

For more information about the Double Up program, visit the website or call 800-453-3663.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • comments August 17, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    sounds like SOCIALISM! very very scary! right, nutters? haha 😉

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