Expanded Double Up Food Bucks program will help more Flint residents use the power of healthy food to combat effects of lead

A row of produce greets shoppers at the Flint Farmers' Market.
Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables will help Flint families limit the effects of lead exposure. Photo: Rick Smith

More Flint children and families will soon have access to the fresh, nutritious food they need to lessen the impacts of lead exposure stemming from the city’s water crisis, the Fair Food Network announced today during an event at the Flint Farmers’ Market.

With help from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and other funders, the Ann Arbor-based network will expand its Double Up Food Bucks program in Flint. The program provides families who qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) with a one-to-one dollar match to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. That means families who use $10 in SNAP benefits to buy produce can receive another $10 in Double Up Food Bucks to purchase more fruits and vegetables.

Studies show that eating foods rich in iron, calcium and Vitamin C can help minimize the impacts of lead exposure, especially among children. It’s believed that many Flint residents have been exposed to lead during the city’s water crisis.

“Good nutrition is always important, especially for kids, but it’s absolutely essential in the wake of Flint’s water crisis,” said Ridgway White, president of the Mott Foundation. “The expansion of the Double Up program will help parents provide their kids with the foods they need to grow up healthy and strong.”

The expansion will add new stores and vendors to the Flint program, which was launched at the Flint Farmers’ Market in 2011. Additional funding will expand the program’s reach in the community, while new technology will allow families to earn and use their Double Up benefits at any participating location. The network also will expand the types of purchases that earn the matching benefit and conduct a community outreach campaign to raise awareness of the program and help residents to enroll.

The network began the Double Up Food Bucks program at five farmers’ markets in Detroit in 2009, and it has since become a national model. Since 2011, Mott has made grants totaling more than a half million dollars for operation and expansion of the program in Flint.

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