You may have noticed that grocery bills are getting higher and that won't slow down anytime soon. The USDA expects grocery prices to rise through the end of the year, including all of the holiday meals. With the increase at the checkout line, there’s also a rise in food insecurity and hunger throughout New York.

But local co-ops and farmers markets across the state are also doing their part to make sure families can stretch their dollars to have healthy food on the table.

What You Need To Know

  • Grocery prices are on the rise, and local farmers markets are working to combat the need in communities

  • Double Up Food Bucks is a program across New York state, stretching the dollar for SNAP benefits

  • It's found at more than 150 locations across New York

Amy Ellis, Community Relations Specialist at Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, says they focus on natural, organic and local food, while remaining accessible and affordable to communities in need.

“This is our neighborhood, where people often times don’t have access to high quality fruits and vegetables,” said Ellis. “So it’s a good opportunity for us to share our mission of providing people healthy and nutritious food options.”

Honest Weight is now participating in a program seen all across the state called 'Double Up Food Bucks.' It’ll help any New Yorker receiving SNAP benefits at more than 150 locations all across the state.

“You’ll see the Double Up Food Bucks program at farmers markets and local retailers like Honest Weight that have a focus on organic, natural, local products,” added Ellis.

Every $20 spent using SNAP benefits, that person will get to choose $20 worth of fresh produce for free. Matching your SNAP benefits, dollar for dollar.

“It’s not like they can only buy produce to get produce, they can purchase anything in the store to earn those dollars. So, it’s just one more way we’re able to offer people in the neighborhood a way to stretch their dollars,” said Ellis.

There’s no catch - people who utilize SNAP can choose from the colors of the rainbow, filling the shelves from fruits, to veggies, and of course all of the produce from local farmers are included.

“Keeping things close to home, it can sometimes make things more affordable. You’re supporting the local business, you’re supporting the local economy”, said Ellie. “It’s just one more gway we can offer folks that live in neighborhood the opportunity to stretch their dollars.”

The Honest Weight Co-op also has food that’s free for taking, year-round, no strings attached.

“For a lot of people who experience food insecurity, they have to jump through hoops, they have to prove they are in need,” said Deanna Beyer, Education & Engagement Coordinator, Honest Weight food Co-Op.

The edible gardens started as the needs for food rose during the pandemic, but the starter program isn’t getting as much use as the group had hoped. So instead of going to waste, members of the co-op used the veggies to create food to be given out for free in the community. The group hoping this program will be seen across the state, as another way to help battle food insecurities.

“We try to include things that will bring comfort and nourishment for people,” said Beyer. “The free food fridges, the community edible garden, there’s no stigma, there’s no exceptions, there are no rules.”

Making sure New Yorkers carts and bellies are full during the most difficult times.

“People are struggling and it’s just another layer of stress to add on to the uncertainty that people are feeling already. So if we can alleviate some of that and we can help while serving the community at the same time, wonderful,” she added. 

The Double Up Food Bucks program is available at more than 150 other sites all across upstate New York. The locations are available here