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State matches $500,000 donation to SNAP program for purchase of locally grown food

The state will match a $500,000 donation to a program that doubles the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits spent on locally grown food at participating grocery stores, according to Gov. David Ige.

SNAP-EBT, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program, is a federal program that provides food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income individuals. With the DA BUX Double Up Food Bucks program, those with a DA BUX Access Card get 50% discounts on qualifying, Hawaii grown fruits, vegetables and proteins at participating grocery stores, including KTA Super Stores and Times Supermarkets.

The state is matching $500,000 in donations from a hui of private-sector organizations and foundations, bringing the total to $1 million, at a time when administrators are seeing a higher number of recipients due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ige called the program a win-win-win for everyone involved on this morning’s Spotlight Hawaii conversation with Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies.

“Really I think we all know that we are what we eat, and if we eat locally produced fruits and vegetables and meat, it’s healthier for us,” said Ige during the conversation. “Doing this is a win-win-win for everybody involved. It helps local farmers, it helps local retailers, and it really helps those in need to stretch their dollars and help our local economy at the same time.“

The statewide program was established last year and is administered by The Food Basket in partnership with the Hawai‘i Good Food Alliance.

Contributions include the following amounts:

>> $500,000 from the State of Hawaii

>> $200,000 from the Stupski Foundation

>> $200,000 from the Ulupono Initiative

>> $50,000 from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation

>> $25,000 from Kamehameha Schools

>> $25,000 from an anonymous donor

The donations are in addition to a total of $100,000 appropriated in fiscal years 2020 and 2021 to the program by the state Legislature last year, which has been matched with philanthropic dollars to maximize a federal match.

“Interest in expanding DA BUX was enthusiastic because of a desire to help and a shared recognition that a strong agriculture economy is critical to addressing Hawaii’s long-term food security and resilience issues,” said Murray Clay, president of Ulupono Initiative, in the news release. “These funds will uplift families and individuals who most need it while helping local agricultural food producers build their market base.”

More information is available at dabux.org.

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