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Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute to host launch of $1 million nutrition incentive program

Published: May 09, 2022
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Auburn University’s Hunger Solutions Institute, or HSI, will host the official launch of Double Up Food Bucks Alabama on Saturday, May 14, at The Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham.

Opening remarks will begin at 11 a.m. CST, followed by a market tour and reception.

Event attendees will include Double Up Food Bucks Alabama advisory board members, Auburn University leadership, funders, local and state elected officials, organizational partners and representatives from Double Up Food Bucks Alabama participating farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

Funded by the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, or GusNIP, within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Double Up Food Bucks helps Alabama residents receive access to healthy and fresh food.

This program makes fresh, healthy food choices more accessible to all, allowing Alabama residents who use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits to purchase double the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers at farmers markets and independent grocers.

More than 15 percent of the Alabama population, or 725,000 residents, participate in SNAP.

“HSI is honored to be taking the lead of Double Up Food Bucks Alabama,” said Skylar Biedenharn, HSI’s project coordinator for Alabama GusNIP. “We have seen firsthand the positive impact the program has on the community, and we are excited to gather at The Market at Pepper Place to feature Double Up Food Bucks Alabama in action.”    

Retailers in Alabama have received GusNIP funding for years, but this marks the first time that program management will be in state. Auburn received $500,000 from GusNIP, plus an additional $500,000 in matching funds from the Fair Food Network, Jefferson County Department of Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama. The funds will be used over the next three years to support greater food access and nutrition security for low-income and at-risk communities.

The Market at Pepper Place is an existing GusNIP participating farmers market. Additional participating retailers include the North Mobile County Food Park and Market in Mobile County; Greene Street Market at Nativity in Madison County; Wrights Market in Lee County; 4th Avenue Supermarket, Bessemer Farmers Market, Birmingham Central Transit Authority Market, East Lake Farmers Market and The Market at Pepper Place in Jefferson County; and Tuscaloosa Farmers Market and additional pop-up markets in Tuscaloosa County.

Jimmy Wright, president of Wright’s Market in Opelika, has been a part of the program since 2019 and is looking forward to working with HSI to increase participation.

“Over the last three years, we have seen the positive impact that Double Up Food Bucks Alabama has had on our SNAP customers by allowing them to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet due to reducing the cost of those products,” he said. “We are excited about continuing that program with our new partner, the Hunger Solutions Institute.”

The Hunger Solutions Institute is a part of the College of Human Sciences at Auburn.

HSI will expand Double Up Food Bucks Alabama this fall to include three additional farmers markets and four additional independent grocers.

“It makes sense for HSI to lead Alabama GusNIP since we have longstanding relationships with state agencies and non-government agencies to support food and nutrition needs of Alabamians,” said Alicia Powers, HSI’s managing director. “The program supports SNAP recipients and small- to mid-size farmers, which helps the state economy. It’s really a win-win-win situation.”

HSI relies on its partnerships with the Alabama departments of human resources, agriculture and industries and public health, as well as Alabama SNAP-Ed, Sweet Grown Alabama and Alabama Grocers Association to help administer GusNIP.

The Market at Pepper Place is located at 2829 2nd Ave. S in Birmingham. For more information on Double Up Food Bucks Alabama, visit DoubleUpAL.org or contact hsi@auburn.edu.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.

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