The Double Up Food Bucks program is now available at a Phoenix corner store for the first time. Double Up Food Bucks Arizona helps families who utilize SNAP benefits (formerly known as “food stamps”) take home twice as many fruits and vegetables. The program currently operates at 23 farmers markets, 3 farm stands, 4 CSAs, and 2 mobile farmers markets. Starting on Friday, Jan. 4, we are able to offer this program to customers of Best Farmers Market (BFM), serving customers in central Phoenix at 4825 N 27th Ave.
BFM has a long history of supporting local Arizona growers. Owned by Eric and May Abraham, the store originally opened at a produce specialty market, working with Phoenix-area farmers in Litchfield Park and Queen Creek to sell citrus, watermelons, and grapes. Over the last 20 years, the Abrahams and their staff have been sensitive to the needs of their changing community, adapting to the shifting grocery landscape, demographics, and preferences. Eric and May immigrated from Baghdad, Iraq over 25 years ago, so they deeply understand the importance of being welcoming to all customers.
Their Swahili and French-speaking customers, many of whom are refugees from around the African continent, rely on Eric and May to sell produce, dry goods, and bath products from their home countries. White eggplants, peanuts, pinto beans and green bananas are key ingredients in their home-cooked meals. Thanks to the Abrahams, these customers have a voice in their local food choices – not often found in big-box stores in the area.
Of course, bananas can’t thrive in our arid Arizona climate, but other options are available. Local growers affiliated with International Refugee Committee and Sun Produce Cooperative are working closely with the Abrahams to grow and supply culturally-appropriate produce to these customers, including spinach, citrus, cabbage, and eggplant. Special thanks to Cindy Gentry and Dave Brady for their work on this. The offerings will change weekly according to seasonality and availability, but at least 2 local Arizona-grown produce items will be available per week.
Customers on Saturday, January 12 can expect to find a taste test featuring local produce, thanks to Gina Lacagnina of Maricopa County’s Office of Community Health Innovation. Free samples will be available from 12-2 p.m.
The Double Up program currently serves 8 counties in Arizona, with a goal to expand to all 15 counties soon. Pinnacle Prevention has operated Double Up in Arizona since 2016, but this is the first brick-and-mortar store in Phoenix to offer the program. Thanks to generous funding from Mercy Care community reinvestments (special thanks to Trisha Stuart), Pinnacle Prevention can launch this program in several corner stores in Phoenix. Our whole team has worked for months on this store launch. We’re thrilled to work with the Abrahams and their staff to offer more options for fresh local foods for our neighbors.
For more information and to find a Double Up location near you, visit www.doubleupfoodbucksarizona.org.
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Kelley Villa, Farm to Fork Programs Manager
Kelley Villa has been working on community health and food access in Arizona since 2014. Her work experience centers on the high value of farmers markets and the important role they play in supporting small-scale farmers, bringing neighbors together, and building Arizona’s economy. At Chandler-based nonprofit Pinnacle Prevention, she manages the Double Up Food Bucks Arizona program, as well as an upcoming GroupGAP program that focuses on the specific needs of small-scale farmers in the Four Corners region.
Pinnacle Prevention is an Arizona-based nonprofit organization dedicated to growing healthy families and communities. Our mission is to inspire and advance a healthy food system and opportunities for active living. Our team of registered dietitians, researchers and social scientists believe all families should have access to healthy food and opportunities to develop healthy relationships with foods. We think all individuals should have access to healthy and safe communities to enjoy physical activity, and we work to make these visions a reality across Arizona.