Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today offered an amendment that would give millions of Michigan citizens more purchasing power to buy healthy, fresh and Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers' markets across the state. The amendment seeks to provide an additional $5 million a year to implement or expand food incentive programs, such as Michigan's Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program, to encourage the consumption of locally-grown produce and allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to maximize their food assistance benefits.
"Since their conception, programs like Michigan's Double Up Food Bucks have been hailed as one of the most effective methods to encourage and promote healthy, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. Such food incentive programs, which my amendment would expand, are a win-win for Michigan families, local farmers and our state's economy," Congressman Kildee said. "My amendment would help to increase the value of food stamp dollars spent on locally-grown produce, encourage healthy eating habits and allow Michigan families the opportunity to maximize their food budgets."
Congressman Kildee offered this amendment as part of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act. His amendment is cosponsored by Congressman Gary Peters (MI-14), Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). The amendment would decrease the adjusted gross income level for price stabilization and conservation programs from $950,000 to $750,000 to offset any cost of the program.
In Michigan, the DUFB program provides families who receive SNAP benefits with the means to purchase more healthy, fresh and locally-grown food. For those who receive SNAP benefits and shop at participating farmers' markets, the amount of money spent is matched up to a certain dollar amount with "food bucks" tokens that can be used to buy fresh, Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables.
Congressman Kildee's amendment coincides with his week-long challenge to live on an average food stamp budget -- $31.50, or $4.50 a day -- for one week to raise awareness about $20.5 billion in cuts House Republicans have proposed in nutrition programs for low-income families and children. The cuts would affect 47.5 million Americans, nearly half of whom are children. You can read more about his food stamp challenge here.
"Shopping on food stamps has shown me how incredibly tough it is to buy fruits and vegetables on such a limited budget," Congressman Kildee said. "Two days into this experience, it has already made me realize the need to maximize the purchasing power of SNAP benefits so families are able to buy fresh produce."
In 2012 alone, SNAP recipients made 89,428 visits to participating markets, totaling $1.5 million in SNAP redemptions. Additionally, 75 percent of the farmers that sold their products in markets with SNAP incentive programs report they earn more money because of the program. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are 1.9 million people in Michigan who receive SNAP benefits.
The DUFB program, a public-private partnership, includes 75 farmers' markets statewide, including in Flint, Saginaw, Bay City, Grand Blanc, East Tawas and Oscoda.