How Boulder’s Soda Tax Is Helping Fight Hunger During COVID-19

Boulder County Public Health is using the tax revenue to expand two fresh fruit and vegetable programs: Double Up Food Bucks and Fruit & Veg Boulder. Officials said enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has increased during the pandemic.

Boulder health officials are using the city’s soda tax to help provide healthy food during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sugar Sweetened Beverage Product Distribution Tax went into effect in 2016.

The Double Up Food Bucks program provides SNAP recipients a dollar-for-dollar match of their benefits to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the Whole Foods or Boulder farmers markets.

“The Double Up program is an important addition to help put fresh, healthy, local food in reach for residents who often cannot afford it,” said Amelia Hulbert, Boulder County Public Health healthy eating and active living specialist. “For some families, this program may be the only way they can get fresh foods.”

Health officials are also expanding services for residents impacted by the pandemic who do not qualify for federal food assistance programs. More than 150 individuals and families are now enrolled in the Fruit & Veg Boulder program, which provides $50-$120 per month for produce at farmers markets and participating retail locations.

“Feedback showed that the Fruit & Veg program helped participants get the fresh fruits and vegetables they needed during these challenging times, said Hulbert. “One participant shared, ‘I was not prepared for the virus to limit us this much financially, and I’m grateful for the assistance.’”

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