Governor Pat Quinn today reminded working families across Illinois to take advantage of the LINK Up Illinois Double Value Coupon Program during Illinois' farmers market season. Today's reminder is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to drive the economy forward and increase the accessibility and affordability of healthy food options in Illinois.
"The LINK Up Illinois Double Value Coupon Program helps to support Illinois children and our economy," Governor Quinn said. "By encouraging families to buy fresh, healthy foods from nearby farmers markets, the program invests back into local economies and makes sure nutritious needs are met."
Many underserved communities in Illinois have limited access to affordable fresh foods. Farmers markets have sprung up in a number of these communities, however healthy food options sold at these markets can be more expensive and difficult to afford.
A program of the organization Experimental Station in partnership with Wholesome Wave and the Illinois Farmers Market Association, LINK Up Illinois aims to connect low-income residents with nutritious food options by providing farmers markets throughout the state with Double Value Coupons. The Double Value Coupon Program allows Illinois LINK card users to receive twice the dollar value when purchasing LINK-approved foods at their local farmers market. In 2012, LINK Up Illinois helped farmers markets throughout the state serve more than 6,000 families and generate over $227,000 in combined LINK and Double Value Coupon Program purchases.
The Double Value Coupon Program also boosts local economies by driving LINK dollars (federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program dollars) to Illinois farmers selling their produce at one or more of the 38 farmers markets currently participating in LINK Up Illinois. According to a recent study by Moody's, every $1 of LINK money spent generates $1.73 for local economies, meaning that participating farmers markets generated over $392,700 in local economic benefit in 2012. A growing number of farmers have also increased their farm or market staff and diversified their product offerings as a direct result of the Double Value Coupon Program.