Double Dollars Program Expands With New Funding
From the Kentucky Department of Agriculture – Frankfort
Additional federal, state, and private-sector funding will enable more low-income families in 22 counties to double their purchasing power at participating farmers’ markets and retail stores across Kentucky.
Kentucky Double Dollars merges and expands programs already offered by Community Farm Alliance (CFA) and Bluegrass Farm to Table (BGFtT). The popular Double Dollars Programs merged under this effort will receive an infusion of $602,000 over four years from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive and $262,000 over two years from the Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, public and private partners announced Tuesday in a joint news conference. Along with funding from WellCare and BB&T, the popular program will have almost $300,000 available this year to help Kentucky families receiving government nutritional assistance to buy more fresh foods produced by local farmers.
“The Double Dollars Program helps achieve one of the key goals of our Hunger Initiative – to make fresh local foods accessible to more Kentucky families,” Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said. “It also increases sales at Kentucky farmers’ markets, creating new income for producers. Congratulations to CFA and its partners for securing the funding to expand this effective and important program.”
“As a board member of the CFA, and managing director of the Boyle County Farmers’ Market, I have experienced personally the impact this program has, not only for food supplement recipients, but the community as a whole,” said John Wyatt, Community Farm Alliance treasurer. “CFA started this program for six markets in eastern Kentucky three years ago, and we are excited about the future by merging with Bluegrass Double Dollars and this new funding.”
Community Farm Alliance is a non-profit community organizing group that advocates for farmers.
“Through the Market Manager and Double Dollars programs, farmers receive a greater return, which increases net farm income and stimulates the local economy, while consumers also receive incentives to purchase fresh and local items at the farmers’ market,” said Warren Beeler, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy. “The Kentucky Agricultural Development Board appreciates the opportunity to partner with the Community Farm Alliance to fund these mutually beneficial programs.”
The Bluegrass Double Dollars program started in Lexington as part of Bluegrass Farm to Table, which connects Kentucky farmers with new market opportunities for locally grown foods, said Ashton Potter Wright, Manager of Bluegrass Farm to Table. “We’re excited to see the program expand statewide,” Wright said.
“WellCare is proud to be a sponsor of Community Farm Alliance’s Double Dollars Program,” said Shannon Jones, senior director of health services for WellCare of Kentucky. “Food security is directly related to health in several ways. When someone is worried about how to put food on the table, it is harder to address health care needs like scheduling mammograms or preventive care that should be part of a healthy life.”
Senator Mitch McConnell, who contacted USDA on behalf of CFA and BGFtT, said: “Community Farm Alliance and Bluegrass Farm to Table are doing great work in Kentucky. Our efforts to secure this USDA grant will help increase access to Kentucky-grown produce for people in need while also helping support our Kentucky farmers.”
This season, 27 Kentucky farmers’ markets, 12 Fresh Stop Markets (in Lexington and Louisville), and two Lexington-based retailers (Good Foods Co-op and Lexington Market East End) are offering Kentucky Double Dollars.
Community Farm Alliance’s Double Dollars Program has also received support from WellCare Health Plans and BB&T. Bluegrass Double Dollars has also received support from the City of Lexington, the Kresge Foundation, Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, Fayette County Farm Bureau, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, and many generous private donors.