SNAP Program Provides Healthy Diets for Area Low-Income Residents

A new study shows incentive programs such as Iowa’s “Double Up Food Bucks” boost healthy eating among low-income residents enrolled in SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Iowa is a top food-producing state but ranks almost last when it comes to fruit and vegetable consumption. 

The American Heart Association of Iowa said when people eat more fruits and vegetables, they reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. Jami Haberl, executive director at Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative said with so much produce available right now, it’s a great time for Iowans to make a lifestyle change.

More than 300 Iowa farmers participate annually in Double Up Food Bucks. The program allows SNAP recipients who spend $10 on fruits and vegetables at a farmer’s market or participating grocery store to take home an additional $10 worth of produce at no extra charge. 

Stacy Frelund, Iowa’s director of government relations for the American Heart Association, said the Double Up Food Bucks expansion into some Iowa grocery stores also creates a ripple effect, stimulating economic activity and opportunity in low-wealth communities. 

Haberl added SNAP users who want to do canning or freezing of fruits and vegetables later in summer can use their Double Up Food Bucks at the most opportune time. 

Nationally, 1-in-10 families benefit from the SNAP program, in which nearly two-thirds of all participants are children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. For more information, visit voicesforhealthykids.org.