Legislature Should Permanently Fund DA BUX Program - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Authors

Lauren Zirbel

Lauren Zirbel is executive director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association.

Kristin Frost Albrecht

Kristin Frost Albrecht is executive director of The Food Basket Inc.

It provides fruits and vegetables to low-income families, supports local farmers and helps Hawaii’s economy.

Double Up Food Bucks, or simply “DA BUX,” is a lifeline for our state, a testament to our commitment to one another, and a promise to make healthy choices accessible to all.

It’s more than just an economic boost; it’s about empowering people, supporting local farmers, and fortifying our state’s economy.

DA BUX partners with local food retailers across the state to make locally grown fruits and vegetables more affordable for low-income individuals and families who receive federal food benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

But this isn’t just a discount program; it’s a promise to nurture the health of our community.

Here’s how it works: When SNAP shoppers use their benefits to purchase qualifying Hawaii grown produce at participating DA BUX food retailers, they receive a 50% discount on those items. This discount isn’t merely a financial benefit; it’s a way to make healthier choices within everyone’s reach.

DA BUX is that rare treasure that delivers a threefold bounty — supporting our families, nourishing our farmers, and energizing our local economy. In a time when access to fresh, nutritious food is the lifeline to good health, DA BUX steps in to bridge the gap between affordability and wholesome living.

It empowers low-income SNAP households to savor the richness of fresh, locally grown produce, filling their tables with better health and wellbeing.

Da Bux signs near the vegetables at Times Supermarket King Street.
DA BUX signs near the vegetables at Times Supermarket on King Street. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021)

The reverberations extend beyond our dinner plates. Our local farmers, the heartbeat of our community, also benefit significantly from the DA BUX program. It opens doors for them, offering opportunities to increase their sales to food retailers. This isn’t just about agriculture; it’s about sustaining the livelihoods of the hardworking farmers who enrich our community’s very core.

The astonishing success of DA BUX is a shining testament to the beauty of collaboration and the might of community support. It has its roots in the pioneering work of local non-profits committed to offering affordable healthy food access to low-income SNAP households. Their unwavering dedication laid the foundation for a unified statewide nutrition incentive program that touches the lives of countless residents.

Today, DA BUX is thriving at 58 food retailers across 113 market sites and pick-up locations, and its growth remains unstoppable. It isn’t just about numbers; it’s about the lives of our SNAP recipients being significantly enriched. Families thrive, farmers flourish, and our communities prosper as a result.

Toby Taniguchi, president of KTA Super Stores, perfectly encapsulates the essence of this program. He emphasizes, “For over a century, KTA Super Stores has strived to serve as an essential source for locally grown produce for our Hawaii island community. DA BUX provides us the opportunity to support our local growers.’

Since launching DA BUX in September 2017, Taniguchi said KTA has seen transactions associated with the program more than quadruple at their seven store locations.

“We see this as a positive sign that DA BUX is motivating families to purchase and consume more healthy fruits and vegetables, and that this increased demand will drive increases in agricultural production for the state,” he added.

The DA BUX program isn’t just about economics; it’s about nurturing the soul of Hawaii. It’s a call for us all to join hands and ensure that nutritious food is accessible to everyone, that our local farms not only survive but thrive, and that our state’s economy prospers.

We extend our heartfelt mahalo to Gov. Josh Green for his invaluable support in releasing $500,000 of his discretionary budget to bolster this program. We are optimistic that during the 2024 legislative session, this program will secure permanent funding at the state Legislature, setting the stage for us to draw down additional matching federal and private funding.

Let’s stand together and create a place where wellbeing, agriculture, and economic prosperity are harmoniously entwined.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

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About the Authors

Lauren Zirbel

Lauren Zirbel is executive director of the Hawaii Food Industry Association.

Kristin Frost Albrecht

Kristin Frost Albrecht is executive director of The Food Basket Inc.

Latest Comments (0)

I’ve seen how much fruits and vegetables get thrown away at different schools, Palolo Elementary throws away the most.The produce that we receive here in HI, is of low quality and poor taste, this is why people do not crave a good fruit/vegetable.It’s time to educate parents and people on how to buy and when to eat a fruit, then we might have kids enjoying a healthy meal.

koti · 4 weeks ago

Awesome news! Mahalo Da Bux!

puhi2013 · 4 weeks ago

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