With a relentless thunderstorm of Republican leaders trying to shame low-income people and deny them public assistance in the news, it is nice to see some light shining in. Last year, the Department of Agriculture was able to add $31.5 million towards SNAP programs that focused on healthier fresh-food accessibility and affordability for people needing assistance. A couple of weeks ago, Los Angeles decided to push forward with a proposal to make all farmers markets accepting of EBT (food stamps) cards, at subsidized rates for the shoppers. A couple of days ago, Governor Jerry Brown approved a bill that hopes to boost this healthier foods movement.
The governor has approved a state budget that includes $5 million for the California Nutrition Incentives Act, which sets up a program to discount fresh produce at farmers markets for low-income shoppers. Signing the bill allows the state to take advantage of federal matching money through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program and thus doubles the impact of its investment in the program.
The Market Match program has so far been funded with a grant from the USDA, but that grant will run out in one year. The Ecology Center, which administers the program statewide, will have to apply through the USDA to get the matching funds, according to the center's food and farming director, Ben Feldman.
This is how these things are supposed to work in a top-down approach. It’s not the only approach, but if the Obama Administration leads with a good idea, it’s nice to see it followed up down the line on the state level.
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