- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

DETROIT (AP) - A Michigan nonprofit will get nearly $5.2 million to help boost the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables for those getting food assistance by expanding a program allowing people to get more for their money at grocery stores and farmers markets, officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the multiyear funding for the Fair Food Network as part of $31.5 million being distributed nationwide. The money seeks to help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

“With this funding, we’ll reach even more people, supporting healthy food environments and resilient rural and urban communities,” Oran Hesterman, president and CEO of Fair Food Network, said in a statement.

The Ann Arbor-based Fair Food Network will use the funding to help expand the “Double Up Food Bucks” program that allows people to boost their purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables. Shoppers at farmers markets, for example, can spend $10 and get a matching amount to spend that day or another day.

The grant will be matched by private funding, said U.S. Den. Debbie Stabenow, and new technology will be introduced to make purchases easier.

“The Double Up program helps families stretch their food budget to buy fruits and vegetables while supporting Michigan’s farmers,” the Michigan Democrat said.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan, said the expanded program will help the half-dozen farmers markets in his district as well as across the state. He said farmers who come to sell their fruits and vegetables at farmers markets will see more businesses with the funding.

“Every family, no matter where they live, should have access to affordable fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

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Online:

https://www.doubleupfoodbucks.org

https://www.fairfoodnetwork.org

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Follow David Runk on Twitter: https://twitter.com/runkdavi

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