Hawaii’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will offer more local produce for half the price to low-income families.
Starting this month, Hawaii’s nutritional assistance program is increasing incentives to buy local fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and grocery stores.
For every $10 spent, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cardholders will receive another $10 worth of fresh island-grown produce for free as part of the Double Up Food Bucks program.
“We all know that fresh fruits and vegetables are usually pricier, so this was just a way to help increase access for those who are on SNAP,” said Jessica Yamauchi, executive director of the Hawaii Public Health Institute.
The initiative began as a pilot program nicknamed “DA BUX” and led by The Food Basket in Hilo on the Big Island. KTA Superstores offer 50% discounts for up to $20 for qualifying fruits and vegetables. SNAP cardholders on the Big Island are also offered discounts on “Da Box,” a produce subscription by Hoolaha Ka Hua, and “Da Bus,” which offers mobile produce market sales.
Cutting food costs through programs like “DA BUX” that offer subsidized produce is one way the Big Island has been addressing hunger.
The Food Basket Inc.
Executive Director Kristin Frost Albrecht said the program has seen “strong success” on the Big Island. The passage of Act 153 will take it statewide.
The Hawaii Department of Human Services will work with the Department of Agriculture to implement the program, according to DHS spokeswoman Keopu Reelitz.
“With this bill, Hawaii can further and simultaneously support our local farmers and families, putting local, healthy, nutritious foods onto clients’ tables,” she said.
Hawaii’s SNAP program supplements food budgets via the Electronic Benefit Transfer system for low-income families and individuals, seniors, people on public assistance and people with disabilities.
Nearly 80,000 Hawaii families and more than 150,000 individuals currently utilize the SNAP program.