OKEMAH, Okla. – The Homeland grocery store in Okemah has implemented Double Up Oklahoma (DUO), a nutrition incentive program operated by Hunger Free Oklahoma. The Lift Oklahoma Communities, Agriculture, and Lifestyles (LOCAL) Coalition is seeking ways to expand the DUO program across the state through a stronger public/private partnership.
A pair of lawmakers accompanied leaders from the LOCAL Coalition on a tour of a local grocery store in Okemah recently to discuss solutions to food insecurity. The coalition members represented on the tour were Hunger Free Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, the American Heart Association, the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, and the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
The visit with state Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, state Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds, and representatives from Homeland was part of the LOCAL Coalition’s effort to advocate for healthier food options for Oklahoma’s families.
DUO encourages the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. When customers make a purchase with their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card at the Okemah Homeland store, or other participating stores and farmers markets across the state, those purchases are matched, dollar for dollar, up to twenty dollars per day, with DUO Bucks redeemable on fresh produce.
Anyone receiving SNAP benefits is automatically eligible for DUO and no additional application is required. SNAP participants may simply shop with their SNAP/Oklahoma EBT card at participating stores to earn DUO Bucks. SNAP participants can use DUO Bucks to buy fresh fruits and vegetables on their next shopping trip.
Thompson, the Oklahoma Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman, said the DUO program is an effective way to encourage families to buy more healthy options. “Not only is this good for families struggling to make ends meet, but it also helps our local community by expanding the variety of fresh produce available to all shoppers,” he said. “I am impressed with how the program works to boost the local economy and support local business; I look forward to finding ways to support Double Up Oklahoma.”
Phillips agrees. “Anything we can do to help local agricultural producers, local businesses, and our families is a ‘win-win-win’ for our state and the economy,” he said. “Finding ways to boost and support this program will be on my priority list for next session.”
Chris Bernard, the executive director of Hunger Free Oklahoma, thanked the lawmakers for their attendance and their efforts to promote DUO. “Sustainable funds to increase the number of communities in which DUO is offered, is critical to increasing DUO’s impact on local economic and health outcomes in Oklahoma,” he said.
Peyton Stacy, policy director for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, indicated that working to make DUO a success over the past several months has been one of the organization’s most important programs. “It was an honor to join these lawmakers as they saw for themselves how the DUO program works by hearing from local employees and the customers in the store,” she said.
The LOCAL Coalition will continue to hold tours of participating stores and farmers markets across the state to help raise awareness of the success of this program.
SNAP participants interested in the DUO program can find locations and information about the program at www.DoubleUpOklahoma.org .