By Kathy Walsh
DENVER (CBS4) – Low-income families in the Denver metro area can now both find and afford healthy food.
That’s thanks to a federal grant, local farmers and convenience stores willing to offer fresh fruits and vegetables.
“I couldn’t wait to come down here and get some corn on the cob,” said Terri Martin.
Fresh vegetables are a treat for Martin who relies on government assistance. She’s delighted to now be able to buy corn, cantaloupe and other produce at Ben’s Supermarket, the corner store in her Denver neighborhood north of City Park.
“Don’t have to, you know, spend an hour on the bus to get some vegetables,” explained Martin.
And now, she’s got more buying power thanks to the LiveWell Colorado program called “Double Up Food Bucks”.
“It’s like buy one, get one free!” Martin told Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
The program starts with Denver urban farmers like Beverly Grant. She’s been selling vegetables from her Seeds of Power Unity Farm to Ben’s and other Denver convenience stores known more for chips and soda, than potatoes and peaches.
“Access to these foods is select and it’s hard and it’s usually very expensive,” said Grant.
But with food bucks, when a customer spends a food stamp dollar on locally grown produce, they get a dollar, up to $20, to buy more produce.
“People, they love it,” said Ben’s store manager, Chris Elalouini. “We make more money on the programs.”
By helping grocers and farmers and fighting urban hunger with healthy options, doubling up dollars makes sense.
The Double Up Colorado program is funded through a Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Grant from the U S Department of Agriculture.