Generally a person who receives food stamps tries to get as much bang for their buck by purchasing food that fills them up fast. These items often contain unhealthy amounts of carbohydrates and sodium.
Food stamps, a part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program administered by the federal government, are received by low-income families with an expressed financial need.
With the price of fruits and vegetables being so high, food stamp recipients tend to steer clear of the produce aisle. However local farmer’s markets are offering incentives for food stamp recipients to start eating better. Initiated by the Food Fair Network, this “double up food bucks” concept will match the amount of food stamps you spend on fruits and vegetables up to $20 daily. For every dollar you spend in food stamps the store will match you two dollars.
According to Double Up Food Bucks, this program was implemented in 2009. While trying to push towards a healthier America this plan has benefited over 200,000 low-income families, it has expanded its sites from five farmers markets in Detroit to over 150 sites within the last five years. It has helped over 1,000 farmers and has generated around $5 million for Michigan’s economy.
The U.S. Agriculture Department announced that $31.5 million is now available in grants to programs that help make farm-fresh fruits and vegetables more affordable for people who rely on food stamps, reported NPR earlier this month.
Healthy eating starts at home, and if you teach children what is good for them they will make healthy decisions when they’re away from the home.
This program is mainly in Michigan but there are two other locations in Toledo. Double Up Food Bucks is a superb idea, but it needs to be matched with an educational program as well, just to ensure the general public knows how to prepare these vegetables, and their health benefits.
Bad eating habits are borne out of ignorance. People may not know that brown rice is better than white rice or that frozen vegetables are better than canned ones, or that both are second best to fresh produce. There needs to be an authoritative source of information. How else are you going to persuade food stamp recipients with poor diets to eat cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, when the Ramen Noodles appeal much more to them?
This program is great for the ones who have the general knowledge on how to eat healthy, but for the ones who don’t, we need to educate them first.