Perry, Okla. grocery store latest to double SNAP benefits for fruits and vegetables through pilot program
Grocery shoppers in the small town of Perry, Oklahoma that use the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will receive twice as much money to spend on fruits and vegetables.
The Homeland grocery store in Perry is the latest to get involved with Hunger Free Oklahoma’s Double Up Oklahoma program, which adds matching money to buy fruits and vegetables for shoppers who use the USDA’s SNAP program.
There are now 11 grocery stores, 19 farmers markets and 11 mobile markets across the state that are a part of the program that adds $1 for every SNAP dollar spent on fruits and vegetables up to $20 a day.
Richard Comeau, program director of Hunger Free Oklahoma, said he’s already seen changes in Perry from the program. In the first six weeks, he says the grocery store had to expand the space to store produce because of demand. He also said he’s seen a 70% program-wide increase in purchases of romaine lettuce compared to iceberg lettuce by SNAP participants.
“So what that tells us is that families with a little bit more resources to buy higher cost, higher nutrition value produce, they're actually doing that,” Comeau said. “So seeing that 70% increase in romaine lettuce purchases is a good indicator to us that people are actually able to get more nutritious food.”
Shea Boschee, CEO of the Noble County Family YMCA, said she has seen the need for food in Perry during the COVID-19 pandemic. The YMCA started a food program when the pandemic began. She said the Double Up program will make a difference.
“There are times I think when families who need that might have to choose between fruits and vegetables … they have to stretch that budget,” Boschee said. “So with this, they are able to get the healthy, and the nutritional fruits and vegetables that they need.”
Comeau said Hunger Free Oklahoma plans to expand the program, and the organization is applying for grants to bring the program to more grocery stores and markets across the state.
A full list of eligible markets and grocery stores in the Double Up Oklahoma program can be found here.