DANE COUNTY (WKOW) – A local program that has been helping EBT users shop at Dane County farmers’ markets for a decade now faces an uncertain future after rising food costs and lack of funds public.
Dane County’s Double Dollars program encourages food share users to purchase fresh produce at local markets by matching funds spent dollar for dollar at any vendor. The program also works with Willy Street Co-op during the winter.
“Customers who receive a share of food or SNAP benefits can go to the Farmer’s Market, and we’ll match their cashout up to $25,” Double Dollars coordinator Marcus Slaton said. “So they withdraw $25, we give them $25. And now they have $50 to spend at the market.”
The program has worked with Dane County Farmers Markets for nearly a decade, but now finds itself in a difficult situation. Inflation has made the price of food particularly expensive and COVID-19 relief funds have dried up.
“Each year, we strive to find enough donors and supporters of double the dollars to ensure matching dollars are available to community members,” said Community Action Coalition Executive Director Amber Duddy. .
Duddy and other program leaders are now asking Dane County Executive Joe Parisi to amend the 2023 budget for more funding for the program.
He currently allocates $88,500 to the Double Dollars program, but Duddy says for long-term viability, they need around $200,000.
“As our COVID funding is gone, the long-term health of the program is really going with it,” Duddy said. “So we know we can get there halfway through next year. It’s the 2024 market that’s kind of a question mark at this point.”
A spokesperson for Parisi’s office said it was not for lack of trying. In the end, there simply aren’t enough funds available.
“Unfortunately, public funds are limited and still more needs than resources,” the statement said. “Additional funding may still be available in the budget through City Council and County Council processes, if these avenues are pursued.”