EAST ORANGE, NJ - As of July 30, you can now use your SNAP food stamps at the East Orange Farmers Market. There is a stand where you can swipe your EBT card, and receive “Double Up Bucks”. These Double Up bucks will allow you to double the amount of money you’d like to use, towards the purchase of produce and other fresh foods.
Members of the Urban Agriculture Cooperative were present and engaged as they recorded those who came to take advantage of the program. They provided some key details of the program: the stamps can only be used for produce, which does not include baked goods. Senior vouchers for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program are accepted and can be doubled up. However the key objective is what encompassed the discussion: The Double Up Bucks extends your purchasing power, stretches (doubles) the benefits that are given by SNAP, hence the name “Double Up”.
The usage of food stamps come at time in our country when the United States Department of Agriculture is trying to limit SNAP food stamps. Food stamps have a policy known as Broad Based Categorical Eligibility, which allows more people to be eligible. The policy allows states to raise the income eligibility for lower income households that struggle to make ends meet. It also supports school districts in lower income communities to provide free breakfast and lunch for their students without an onerous application process. This application process is what bars many from being able to have lunch at their schools. The USDA wishes to eliminate this eligibility policy due in part to instances where those not in need have been able to gain access to the benefits. The elimination would have a negative impact to those who legitimately benefit and would make it very unlikely for supportive programs such as Double Up to exist.
The Double Up at the Farmer’s Market comes at a time where East Orange is reporting great things under the administration of Mayor Ted R. Green who was present and open to discussion with the shopping community. The mayor expressed his pleasure with the program and shared other local accomplishments. He noted that East Orange has the most female officers in its police force ever, crime rates are at its lowest since 1967, and the high school graduating class of 2019 have received the most scholarships to colleges ever.