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Grant will help farmers markets help SNAP recipients

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A public-private program is making it possible for those struggling to make ends meet  to access fresh produce while supporting small businesses and local growers.

The New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association Wednesday announced it received $2.1 million in federal money to expand its Double Up Food Bucks healthy food incentive program over the next four years. The program also has received money from various foundations in the state.

Double Up increases the value of SNAP benefits when used for New Mexico-grown produce. SNAP stands for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps.

“Double Up is an innovative public-private partnership that leverages federal and state funds to bolster families’ purchasing power for needed fruits and vegetables,” U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news release on the grant. “This program ensures that families have access to affordable and nutritious foods while also creating economic opportunities for New Mexico producers.”

Funding comes from the USDA, but New Mexico provided an additional $390,300 annually, marking the first time a state legislature provided matching funds for such incentives.

Funds will be used to expand Double Up to nearly 90 sites across the state, including 50 farmers’ markets, grocery stores, farm stands, mobile markets, and community supported agriculture outlets. In 2016 Double Up, is projected to stimulate an average of $1.2 million annually in local food sales.

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