Double Up Food Bucks Arizona (Double Up AZ) is the state’s take on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) incentives. By doubling the value of SNAP dollars used to buy Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables, the program benefits families, local farmers and the economy—making it a triple win.
Now the program is building on its success. Thanks to a $400,000 boost from the state, for the first time, a full-service grocery store is participating in Double Up AZ. Bashas’ Diné Market, part of a family-owned chain with stores on Tribal reservations throughout Arizona, is the only full-scale grocer serving the Navajo Nation community in Window Rock. Bashas’ Diné Markets specialize in serving the needs of Navajo customers with products such as Blue Bird flour for fry bread, mutton and wool. Additionally, store signs are in the Navajo language.
The new partnership with Double Up AZ gives Bashas’ Dine Markets customers “added encouragement to purchase and consume healthy, fresh produce,” said Ashley Shick, director of communications and public affairs for Bashas’ Family of Stores. She added that it makes shopping for healthy items more affordable.
The $400,000 appropriation for Double Up AZ has also helped increase the number of participating farmers markets from 27 to 75.
Since the launch of Double Up AZ in 2016, the program has had enormous effects on the purchasing power of food-insecure families participating in SNAP to buy locally grown produce. SNAP spending with local growers through local growers through farmers markets, farm stands, farm subscriptions, mobile markets, food banks and grocery stores has increased by 1,000%—bringing in more than $300,000 in added farmer income. This is especially important in rural communities, where small-scale growers struggle to make a profit. Seventy percent of small direct-market farmers say Double Up AZ has increased their annual sales.
Double Up AZ shoppers report that, because of the program, they are bringing home more fresh fruits and vegetables. Ninety percent say that the program makes fresh produce more affordable for them, and 87% say they now buy and consume a larger amount of vegetables.
The state appropriation has increased awareness of Double Up AZ in communities the program previously wasn’t reaching, according to Adrienne Udarbe, executive director of Pinnacle Prevention, the nonprofit that administers Double Up AZ. But further expansion is needed to meet the needs of all Arizona families. Ideally, Udarbe said she would like to enlist more grocery stores, which do a much higher volume of SNAP business than farmers markets.
Shick said that overall produce sales at Window Rock’s Bashas’ Diné Markets have increased since partnering with Double Up AZ. From Bashas’ point of view, the program has been “a great success,” Schick said, adding that Pinnacle Prevention has provided critical community education and outreach to the community and through in-store trainings. In fact, the partnership has gone so well that Bashas’ Diné Markets plans to launch Double Up AZ programs at three new store locations.
For Arizona’s families, local farmers and economy, that’s good news.