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Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation Authorizes $25,000 to Fund Field & Fork Network to Combat Food Insecurity

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today announced the Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation has approved a $25,000 grant to Field & Fork Network to bring the Double Up Foods Bucks Program to Suffolk County. Double Up Food Bucks doubles the value of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, that is spent at participating farmers markets, mobile markets, corner stores, small retail locations, farm stands and grocery stores, helping residents to bring home more locally grown fruits and vegetables.

“With more than 350,000 Long Islanders not knowing where their next meal will come from, this program will not only give low income residents the chance to make healthier food choices, it will also allow local farmers to gain new customers and make more money, ” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “Double Up Food Bucks will also allow more food dollars to stay in our local economy.”

Natalie Wright, Commissioner, Economic Development & Planning and Chair of the Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation said: “The Double Up Food Bucks program is a win-win for local food producers and the community – strengthening our food economy and assisting families who are facing food insecurity. The Economic Development Corporation endorses this creative effort.”

Double Up Food Bucks can only be used to purchase New York-grown fruits and vegetables. You can also use Double Up Food Bucks to purchase food bearing plants such as tomato plants, etc. Anyone receiving SNAP benefits is automatically eligible. If you have a SNAP EBT Card, you can use this program at a participating Double Up Food Bucks program site. Participating retailers must serve New York grown produce and accept SNAP benefits. For more information on Double Up Food Bucks, visit www.doubleupnys.com.

Field & Fork Network is a non-profit organization serving New York State. Their mission is to connect communities to innovative solutions that foster a sustainable food system. The Field & Fork Network began administering the Double Up Food Bucks program in 2014 at 7 farmers markets in Western New York. By 2021, the program has grown to be in 29 counties and over 150 farmers markets, mobile markets, grocery, small retail and farm stand locations. For more information on the Field & Fork Network, visit https://fieldandforknetwork.com.

In 2018, Suffolk County launched “Choose LI – Local and Independent”, a collaborative effort that seeks to raise awareness, advocate and inspire the community to support local and independent businesses on Long Island, including local fruits and vegetables. Residents can visit www.chooseli.org to find participating Double Up Food Bucks locations.

Farmers markets and farm stands interested in participating in the Double Up Food Bucks program should reach out to August Ruckdeschel at August.ruckdeschel@suffolkcountyny.gov.

National Farmers Market Week works to highlight how much value markets bring to their communities. The week includes fun events, specials, contests and activities to help boost market attendance and visibility in local communities. National Farmers Market week begins August 1st and runs through August 7th

Lisa French, co-founder and CEO of Field & Fork Network said: “I want to thank Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and the Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation for their commitment to fighting food insecurity and supporting local agriculture by investing in Double Up Food Bucks for their community. Double Up Food Bucks is a proven, innovative sustainable model that simultaneously delivers health and economic opportunity. Helping New Yorkers buy fresh, healthy food from local farmers is a simple, yet powerful concept. With Double Up Food Bucks every dollar spent does at least double duty, providing a dollar in new sales for NY family farmers and a dollar in real nutrition assistance, improving community health, and keeping food dollars circulating in the local economy.”

August Ruckdeschel, Chair, Suffolk County Food Policy Council said: “I want to thank the Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation for providing the seed money for this exciting program. The Double Up Food Bucks program has proven its value to consumers and farmers across New York state and across this nation. Bringing the program to Long Island has been a dream of the Suffolk County Food Policy Council for many years, and we are ready and willing to ensure the program is a local success.”

 Teddy Bolkas, Farmer, Thera Farms at CSJ Brentwood said:  “Food insecurity, especially for our children is a terrible thing. We hope our participation in this wonderful program will help feed hungry families on Long Island.”

Kara Bak, Director, Housing and Community Services for the Town of Southampton said: “The Town of Southampton is looking forward to participating in the Double Up Food Bucks Program at its Flanders Farm Fresh Food Market located at the Crohan Center in Flanders where families can be provided with local farm fresh vegetables and local fresh baked goods each Saturday during the Summer”.

Kate Fullam, Executive Director, East End Food Institute said: “The Riverhead Indoor Farmers Market will return this fall at the corner of Main Road and Cross River Drive in Riverhead, formerly the Homeside Garden Center. For the first time, the market will accept SNAP benefits and will also partner with Field & Fork to launch the Double Up Food Bucks program in Suffolk County. We are thrilled to be improving access to local food and creating new opportunities for producers to connect with the community.”

Michele Gervat, Community Impact Director, American Heart Association said: “The benefits of eating colorful, delicious and nutritious foods are undeniable, keeping our bodies and minds healthier, longer. All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and veggies to make it to the recommended five servings per day. We applaud the announcement by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and the Suffolk County Economic Development Corporation for approving a $25,000 grant to Field and Fork Network to bring the Double Up Foods Bucks Program to Suffolk County. We look forward to continuous support to ensure the improvement in health outcomes for all Suffolk County residents.”

 

*Press Release from the Office of Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.