Written by Olivia Barrera
Did you know Double Up Food Bucks can help low-income residents double their money when it comes to fruits and veggies? This breakthrough program started in Michigan back in 2009 and now exists across the country in 27 additional states! This article breaks down how the DUFB program works and shares some tips for getting SNAP benefits if you qualify.
How it Works
Double Up Food Bucks expands access to healthy food for low-income Michiganders by matching the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits—also known as SNAP, food stamps, or EBT—when used to purchase acceptable fruit and veg.
Folks use their EBT, aka Bridge Card, to purchase fresh produce at participating vendors; either a farmers market or grocery store. Then, the amount spent is returned in the form of Double Up Food Bucks which can be used for more fresh produce! The program currently runs year-round in the state of Michigan.
If you have a Bridge Card, you’re ready to go! When making a fruits or vegetables purchase at the farmer’s market, tokens are returned matching the cost dollar for dollar. These can be redeemed at participating markets and never expire! At the grocery store, Double Up Bucks are often printed onto the receipt or loaded onto a store loyalty card. The next time you shop, bring the receipt or store card to cash them in! There is even a Double Up card which some grocers load Double Up Bucks onto. DUFB’s new MyFresh Wallet app can be used alongside the Double Up card to see your balance or transaction history any time and to store your Double Up Bucks! The app can also be used without a Double Up card to find locations that participate in the DUFB program and to retrieve updates about the program. Cashiers are trained on the Double Up program and should be equipped to answer any questions you have and, if you’re shopping at a farmer’s market, you can go up to the information booth and ask about Double Up Food Bucks.
Video by Fair Food Network
The program is meant to benefit local farmers, low-income residents, and food retailers. DUFB was designed to be focused on fresh Michigan produce but many vendors and retailers allow their customers to Double Up on all fresh produce. I reached out to the Double Up Food Bucks Hotline (866-586-2796) and asked a few questions:
- Does the produce have to be fresh produce or are canned, dried, and frozen goods included? It depends on the retailer, but many include fresh produce only in their Double Up program.
- Does the produce have to be grown in Michigan? It depends. If there isn’t a requirement for Michigan fruits and vegetables, some stores will be under contract to purchase a specified quantity of fresh Michigan produce and then they can offer the Double Up Bucks for any fresh produce.
- How much can Double Up match per day? The limit depends on the retailer, but some offer up to $20 per day and some have gone up to $50 per day since the pandemic.
- Do Double Up Food Bucks expire? No.
I also spoke with five separate grocery stores across Michigan and all of them told me they only include fresh produce in the Double Up program. One store told me they can only include Michigan produce and the other four said any fresh produce is allowable for the program. All of this to say, the program is flexible and varies across retailers!
Where to Use Double Up?
Big box grocery stores like Kroger, Walmart, and Meijer don’t yet participate in DUFB but many family-owned/ neighborhood grocery stores do.
Use this map to see grocery stores and farmers markets near you that participate, over 250 retailers across MI currently do! The green pins signify farmer’s markets and the yellow denote grocery stores.
Click on a pin for details about each retailer’s policies and whether they use the Double Up Card, a store loyalty card, or other methods for redeeming Double Up Bucks. Plus, contact info and hours for retailers and markets!
How to get a Bridge Card
First, you need to find out if you qualify for SNAP benefits. The following are current general requirements for income and assets but keep in mind, due to COVID, a lot of benefit programs have temporarily widened eligibility:
- Income: gross income at or below 130% the Federal Poverty Level, chart below.
- Monthly Expenses: shelter, dependent care expenses, certain medical expenses for household members over 60 years old, child support payments, and more.
- Assets: asset limit of $15,000 (not including primary vehicles or residence).
To apply, use the MI Bridges (mobile friendly) site: www.michigan.gov/mibridges. You will need to upload some identification documents as well as provide bank statements to substantiate reported income, assets, and expenses. The MI Bridges site can also be used to connect with a trained navigator who can assist you with your application. Another resource available is the F.O.R. (Food and Other Resources) Helpline, a statewide helpline which assists with completing applications, answering questions about SNAP, and phone interpreters for over 250 languages! Your local MDHHS can connect you with your case worker to answer specific questions.
Sources and Further Reading: