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Apr 01

Meet the Double SNAP Dollars Program

by Amanda Riphenburg

Hi all! I’m Amanda.

I have been working with the Co-op and the NMCDC over the past couple months as an intern student with the University of Montana’s School of Social Work program. I have enjoyed meeting many of you while in the office, at the last Community Dinner, the Welcome to the Hood Party, and just recently, the showing of Food Stamped. I am excited to continue to meet everyone connected to the Co-op and the rest of Burns Street!

AmandaDuring my time here, I have been focusing my work on an exciting new project. The Double SNAP Dollars (DSD) program will match, dollar for dollar, SNAP (aka Food Stamps) benefits on fresh, local fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods. For example, if a shopper comes in with $5 in SNAP benefits to spend on local spinach, the program will donate $5 more to spend on other locally produced foods!

If you have never relied on SNAP benefits to feed your family you may be wondering whether there is a need to boost benefits. Well, according to the USDA, the average SNAP recipient in Montana receives $117.53/monthly or only about $3.92 a day to feed themselves. According to the 2013 American Community Survey results, in the Missoula area, around 13% households received SNAP benefits. However, in our North/Westside neighborhood, an even larger proportion of households, about 26%, relied on SNAP benefits. As a result, many people cannot afford nutritious meals and understandably turn to cheap, processed foods, high in sodium, to keep their bellies full. Clearly, we, as a community, must work for change. We must work to ensure all of our neighbors are able to affordably access the incredible food our Co-op (and all of the Missoula Community) has to offer. Heck, it’s written into the MCFC’s mission: to provide and promote affordable access to local and healthful food while creating a vibrant forum for broadening community awareness and fostering collective creativity.

Even more, DSD will also benefit local farmers and growers and in turn, our local economy and food system by encouraging dollars to be spent on local food and stay in our community. What more could we ask for?

Although the idea of a DSD program may sound new, many similar programs can be found in over 24 states across the country. Other programs have been incredibly successful at creating access to local, nutritious foods and boosting returns for local farmers and growers. We are currently chatting with these programs to understand the systems and tools of creating a successful program.

Currently, the program is in the fundraising and marketing phase. I am working on this project closely with Food Co-op Board Chair and general rock star, Terri Roberts. We are also working with Lacy Roberts at the NMCDC, members from the Community Food and Agriculture Coalition (CFAC) and representatives from both farmers markets in Missoula. We have submitted some grants and are actively planning a launch event. We are hoping to launch the program by the beginning of June and have visions of the program expanding across all of Western Montana in the future.

If you have any innovative fundraising ideas, would like to chat more about the program, or just want to say hi, I’d love to hear from you! I can be reached through email at: amanda.riphenburg@gmail.com

UPDATE!  We’ve officially launched our Crowdrise campaign! Take a minute, check it out, and consider donating to the match pool! https://www.crowdrise.com/HealthyFoodforAll

Permanent link to this article: http://missoulafoodcoop.com/meet-the-double-snap-dollars-program/

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1 comment

  1. Rae

    Hey,

    This seems really rad, I have passed this article on to our education and outreach coordinator but I was wondering if you could share more information on how you made this project work. One of our major goals from our strategic plan is to improve prices, price perception, and access to our community and I think this or a similar program could benefit West Philly greatly.

    My questions are: What does the back end of this look like? How did you implement this program? What kind of outreach did you do for the community when you implemented this? What signage/other info do you have for this in store or ads etc? How are you able to afford this in such a low margin business?

    Thanks for your help and keep up the great work!
    Rae

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