The $500,000 matching grant will expand the program in farmers markets across the state and pilot a grocery store program in rural Oklahoma
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020 (TULSA, OK) – Hunger Free Oklahoma was awarded a $500,000 matching grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to expand Double Up Oklahoma in farmers markets across the state and to pilot a grocery store program in rural Oklahoma. Combined with over $400,000 in support from the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) for an expansion to grocery stores and an additional $500,000 in matching funds from philanthropic foundations, Hunger Free Oklahoma anticipates providing over $1,000,000 in local fruits and vegetables to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients over the next two years.
“SNAP and Double Up Oklahoma are two proven programs that help families put enough nutritious food on the table while benefiting the local economy,” said Richard Comeau, Program Director for Hunger Free Oklahoma. “We are grateful that the USDA, TSET, and our funders see the value of this program and the potential impact of strategic expansion for families and local businesses.”
What is Double Up Oklahoma?
The Double Up Oklahoma program helps SNAP recipients by matching SNAP purchases dollar for dollar at participating farmers markets and grocery stores across the state. To receive the Double Up Oklahoma match, SNAP participants spend their SNAP dollars at participating farmers markets and stores, and each SNAP dollar is matched by Double Up Oklahoma up to $20 per day. Unlike normal SNAP, which can be spent on most food items, Double Up Oklahoma dollars can only be spent on eligible fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
“We really see Double Up Oklahoma as a triple-win for Oklahoma,” said Hunger Free Oklahoma Executive Director Chris Bernard. “Through this program, Oklahoma families on a limited food budget are given more to spend on healthy food, Oklahoma farmers get access to a larger and more diverse group of customers, and the Oklahoma economy benefits from more food dollars being spent locally.”
The Grocery Store Pilot Program
Historically Double Up Oklahoma (DUO) has only been offered for SNAP participants shopping at 15 farmers markets and one nonprofit grocer in Oklahoma; but fresh produce is also sold at local grocery stores. Upon taking over management of Double Up Oklahoma, Hunger Free Oklahoma quickly identified grocery stores as the most strategic opportunity to reach more SNAP shoppers.
Hunger Free Oklahoma has worked with the employee-owned Homeland and their other regional brands under the parent company HAC, Inc. to pilot a DUO program in grocery stores and develop an innovative process for offering Double Up Oklahoma incentives in their stores. According to Marc Jones, President and CEO of HAC, Inc. “Oklahomans serving Oklahomans is at the core of our mission. Offering a program like Double Up Oklahoma is an effective way to help our customers stretch their food budgets and afford healthier options. We are excited to pilot this innovative program in our stores and communities.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has funded the pilot of the first Homeland grocery store project slated to launch in the coming weeks in Okemah, Oklahoma. After this initial store, funding from TSET will launch and support Double Up Oklahoma in up to 10 more rural stores over the next year. In 2021, Double Up Oklahoma is anticipated to be operating in 25 farmers markets and 11 grocery stores in targeted communities throughout Oklahoma. Hunger Free Oklahoma estimates that over 50% of SNAP participants will gain better access to fruits and vegetables as a result of this expansion.
“We are grateful to be awarded this GusNIP grant at a time when Oklahomans are increasingly struggling with food insecurity,” said Comeau. “We’ll continue to provide updates on the pilot program and expansion opportunities as the project progresses.”
Hunger Free Oklahoma The Hunger Free Oklahoma mission is to leverage the power of collaboration to solve hunger in Oklahoma by improving systems, policies, and practices. Learn more at HungerFreeOK.org.
Double Up Oklahoma Double Up Oklahoma doubles the value (up to $20 per day) of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) dollars spent at participating farmers markets and grocery stores in Oklahoma. Learn more at DoubleUpOklahoma.org. Additional philanthropic partners include The Fair Food Network, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Sanford and Irene Burnstein Foundation, Life Church, and The Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.