Congressman Dan Kildee Introduces Bill in Congress to Promote Locally Grown Food and Healthy Families
Local Food for Healthy Families Act Would Support Local Farmers, Generate Economic Activity and Provide Fresh Fruits and Vegetables to Michigan Families
SAGINAW – Surrounded by local farmers at the Downtown Saginaw Farmers’ Market, Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today announced his second bill in Congress, the Local Food for Healthy Families Act, which would promote healthy, fresh and Michigan-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets across Michigan. The bill would expand funding for programs like Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB), a food incentive program that gives state residents on food assistance more purchasing power to buy healthy, locally-grown produce.
“My new legislation in Congress, the Local Food for Healthy Families Act, encourages and gives Michiganders the choice to effectively double their dollars and buy fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets across the state,” Congressman Kildee said. “Expanding successful programs like the Double Up Food Bucks program, as my bill would do, would pump millions of dollars into our local economy. It also would support Michigan’s family farmers who, throughout the summer and fall, come to sell their produce our state’s open air markets like here in Saginaw,” Congressman Kildee said.
Programs like DUFB are not mandatory, but rather a way for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to maximize their purchasing power when shopping for 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.
In June, Congressman Kildee offered a similar amendment as part of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill. Unfortunately, his amendment was not included in the Farm Bill by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. This Farm Bill was defeated in the House on June 20, 2013 on a 195-234 vote.
Kildee’s new legislation being announced today will be introduced as a stand-alone bill. The bill will be formally introduced in Congress on Sept. 9, 2013, the first day Congress resumes session from a six-week legislative recess.
Congressman Kildee’s new legislation comes after he lived off of an average food stamp budget in May – $31.50 for a week, or $4.50 a day – to raise awareness about $20.5 billion in cuts House Republicans 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 learn more about his food stamp challenge here.
“Living on the equivalent of food stamps, even just for a week, quickly showed me how difficult it was to buy fresh and locally-grown food on a tight budget,” Congressman Kildee said. “My bill would help people on food assistance increase their purchasing power, doubling their budget for food if they shop and eat healthy produce sold by our local farmers.”
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. A full list of participating farmers’ markets in Michigan can be viewed at http://www.doubleupfoodbucks.org/.