Willy Street Co-op’s Double Dollar program available for FoodShare year-round

FoodShare recipients can now reap the benefits of Willy Street Co-op’s Double Dollars program year-round.

The Double Dollars program is designed to create greater access to fresh and healthy food for Madison’s FoodShare recipients.

A Quest card holder can visit any of six local farmers’ markets to use Double Dollars. Once at the farmers’ market, the card holder decides how much market money to put on their Quest card, and Double Dollars will then match that amount–up to $25 per market day–for shopping at the farmers’ market.

According to Brendon Smith, communications director at Willy Street Co-op, the Double Dollar program ran a grant-funded pilot study from October 2016 to March 2017, and the results were satisfactory.

“We tested it out, and when we were about halfway through we thought it was looking pretty good. We were happy with the results of the pilot, but we knew that we couldn’t rely on grants to keep it going in the future. So we were looking for some more kind of consistent funding mechanism,” Smith said.

And they found it.

Willy Street Co-op has been struggling with revamping their bag reimbursement program to better fit what customers are looking for. Smith said customer feedback from the program tells them the 10 cents per reusable bag isn’t a noticeable savings.

“We had two challenges, so what if we use one challenge to solve the other challenge? What if we use the bag credit money to help fund the Double Dollars fund?” Smith said.

Willy Street Co-op now takes the proceeds from the reusable bag credit program to help fund the Double Dollars program. This way, customers are encouraged to reuse bags while helping fund an important program, Smith said. For every reusable bag used, the Co-op will donate 10 cents, and for every reused paper or plastic bag, the Co-op will donate five cents.

Customers also have the opportunity to donate directly to the Double Dollars fund at the cash registers. They can purchase cards in set dollar increments of $1, $5, $10 or $25 that are then deposited into the fund. Willy Street Co-op hopes to fund the program year-round this way.

According to a press release from Willy Street Co-op, the Co-op is “one of the first retailers in the nation to set up consistent, non-grant funding for the cause of affordable fresh foods” in 2017.

The Double Dollars program will remain active year-round. Only for the summer of 2017 can FoodShare recipients use their Quest card at six local farmers’ markets: Dane County Farmers’ Market, Eastside Farmers’ Market, Northside Farmers’ Market, Westside Farmers’ Market, Monona Farmers’ Market and El Mercadito de Centro.

For more information about where, when, and how to take advantage of the Double Dollars program click here.