At the last board meeting, the Township of Pittsfield reaffirmed its nearly decade-long commitment to providing healthy food to its most needy citizens. Supervisor Mandy Grewal said she asked Tanya Andrews to provide an update to the board on her Double Up Food Bucks stake last month before the board voted unanimously to conclude a new contract to continue Pittsfield Farmer’s Market participation.
This is a nationwide program funded by the Fair Food Network, which provides vouchers to anyone using food stamps at participating locations, effectively doubling the purchasing power they have if they buy Michigan-grown fruit and vegetable food options.
“We actually started doing our year-round online market. There are actually a number of vendors that we use who work during the winter, who produce things like salads and micro-vegetables; and we have vendors who have things like apples, potatoes and squash; hearty winter things. So there are people who use the program until December. … If there is a market that works during the winter, they could use it there. The program does not have a hard quit date,” Andrews said. She added that the program “fits well with our mission to connect people in the community with wholesome, wholesome food. Access to food is so important to Pittsfield.
The Township of Pittsfield has been part of the program since 2015. Anyone who receives food assistance can participate with any participating farmer’s market or grocery store.
“One of our main goals is not just to support our local farmers and make food accessible to people; especially those who live in places where they don’t have as much access to fruits and vegetables as other people. We continue to work to maximize this goal [with our] farmers market,” said Pittsfield Supervisor Mandy Grewal.
The program is also set up to help small family farm families. The food is generally grown in Michigan, according to Kellie Boyd, director of Double Up Food Bucks Michigan, of the Fair Food Network.
“Double Up is a triple win solution. This helps families bring in more vegetables. It helps boost business for Michigan farmers and also boosts the local economy,” Boyd said. “In 2020, more than a thousand farmers benefited from their participation in the double up program. In 2019, our independent grocery store owners purchased over $1.5 million worth of Michigan produce during the peak growing season. In 2020, that number doubled to over 3.6 million. We have seen a tremendous impact on small family farms in recent years. »
Several locations are participating in southeast Detroit. The Fair Food Network has a tool on its website that will allow you to find your nearest participating establishment by city or postcode. In Washtenaw County, these locations include Farmers Markets in Pittsfield, Saline, Chelsea, Ypsilanti, Dixboro, Westside, Argus Farms, Acorn and Ann Arbor. Grocery stores like People’s Food Co-Op and Ypsilanti Food Co-Op are also participating.
Image Credit: Township of Pittsfield