Here’s how the program works: Residents swipe their Bridge card at a farmers market and indicate how much they plan to spend there. In return, they will also receive a $1-for-$1 match in tokens, up to $20 a day.
The Double Up tokens can be used for Michigan-grown produce such as vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, herbs, and seeds and plants that produce food.
Registration isn’t required to participate. Tokens can be used throughout the summer, and don’t need to be used in one visit.
“It’s a really great incentive program encouraging people to get more fruits and vegetables and make healthy choices,” said Ottawa Food coordinator Lisa Uganski.
Uganski said the program also supports local farmers.
The program started at the Holland Farmers Market in 2012, and it expanded to the Grand Haven and Spring Lake markets in 2015. Last year, more than $16,000 of Double Up Food Bucks were redeemed at farmers markets throughout the county.
Vendors have signs that indicate the methods of payment they accept, said Mary Sherman, the local Chamber of Commerce’s market master.
Sherman said she believes offering the program is a great opportunity.
“It’s a way to provide more for your family and stretch your food dollars,” she said.
Using a Bridge card, Sherman said people can purchase cheese, bread and meat, and they can use their tokens for fruits and vegetables to make their purchase a meal. She noted the markets also accept WIC, Prescription for Health and Senior Project Fresh.
Attending a farmers market can be a family outing and a daylong activity with a variety of things to do around the markets, according to Sherman.
“I hope people can make a habit out of it and come all season long,” she said.
The Grand Haven Farmers Market is open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through the end of October. It will also be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays beginning June 6. You’ll find it under the green canopy at Chinook Pier.
The Spring Lake Farm and Garden Market runs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays, June 7 to Oct. 11, in the Harvest Bible Chapel parking lot.