Wholesome Wave, through its flagship Double Value Coupon Program, doubles the value of food stamps when they are used to buy farmers’ market produce. This nutrition incentive benefits low-income consumers by making healthy fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable. The program also aids the small and mid-size farmers who sell at farmers’ markets by expanding their customer base. Since its inception in 2008, the Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) has been widely successful, spreading to 160 markets in 20 states, and significantly increasing the amount of SNAP1 dollars flowing through farmers’ markets each week. Both public health and local agriculture advocates cite it as the kind of innovative program America needs in order to address some of its most entrenched social problems. Now, after several years of pilot programs and expansion, Wholesome Wave is poised to take advantage of a strategic pause and decide how to proceed into the next stage. The fundamental questions it might consider include: How should the Double Value Coupon Program grow and expand its influence? How can it become sustainable? What are the greatest opportunities and biggest barriers to sustained performance and social impact? This Policy Analysis Exercise will help examine these questions and others, and make recommendations for Wholesome Wave. Our central purpose is to assist Wholesome Wave in broadening the Double Value Coupon Program’s value to society.
This report was written by students at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.