Durango Natural Foods Co-op took its friendly neighborhood grocery store vibe to a new level this summer.
The co-op joined the Old Fort Farm Stand, Durango Farmer’s Market, and Bayfield Farmer’s Market to offer the Double Up Food Bucks Program to EBT/SNAP participants. This makes DNF Co-op, a member-owned food cooperative, the first and only grocery store in a 25-mile radius to participate in this program, according to a news release from the organization.
“We’re trying to become a community market, to serve this community around the college and the residential area,” said Lucinda Berdon, the interim general manager at DNF. “We’re small but mighty. We have some really good products for sale here that are really good deals.”
According to the Good Food Collective, one in six people in Colorado are food insecure, meaning people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. In La Plata County, one in eight people is food insecure, including one in four children.
This is where the Double Up Food Bucks comes in. The program, started by LiveWell Colorado, doubles the value of SNAP or food stamps spent to be spent on produce at participating stores. The benefits are twofold – the program not only gives people more access to fresh fruits and vegetables but also supports local farmers selling their crops. There’s also the added bonus of keeping that money in the local economy and supporting small businesses.
LiveWell Colorado works to increase access to healthy food by removing barriers that disproportionately affect people of color and those who qualify as low income.
“It’s a game-changer for this town because it’s typically just been for farmer’s markets and that’s seasonal,” Berdon said. “We are sort of a pilot program for Double Up Colorado. Because we buy and sell a lot of local produce we qualified for this program.”
The best part of all this is how simple the whole process is – no need for complicated paperwork and bureaucracy. All you have to do is bring your EBT card to DNF the next time you’re shopping for groceries. Find the EBT/SNAP-eligible foods (clearly labeled throughout the store) and for every $1 spent in SNAP assistance you’ll get $1 toward purchasing locally grown fruits and vegetables. Those eligible can get up to $20 in Food Bucks per visit.
“It was clear to us that this is something we need to offer our community,” the organization wrote in a news release. “We are proud to be the first grocery store to do so.”