Three states start programs to get people on food stamps to eat healthier

By Shirleen Guerra | The Center Square

Washington, Colorado and Louisiana will be among the first to participate in the United States Department of Agriculture’s $25 million grant for incentivizing fruit and vegetable purchases among participants for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The USDA food and nutrition service recently announced a $25 million grant to incentivize SNAP participants to consume more fruits and vegetables. The goal is to encourage healthy eating and improve their diets.

The USDA food nutrition service works to end hunger and improve food and nutrition security through a suite of 16 nutritional assistance programs.

Washington, Colorado and Louisiana will receive a total of $25 million to start and operate the electronic healthy incentives pilot (eHIP).

Washington will receive $7.6 million.

“Washington’s project targets communities with low-income/low access, rural, tribal, persistent poverty counties, high SNAP caseload, aging, young, and culturally diverse populations.”

The SNAP participants will receive 100% of the qualifying purchases back onto their SNAP card for every purchase made of fruits and vegetables which can be redeemed for any eligible SNAP food for up to $50 per month. The project will start in January 2024.

Louisiana will receive $9.5 million.

“SNAP participants will receive $0.30 for every dollar of SNAP benefits spent on fruits and vegetables back onto their EBT card to be redeemed during a subsequent purchase for any SNAP eligible food, up to $25 per month,” according to the state of Louisiana, which expects to launch the program in August 2024.

Colorado will receive $7.9 million.

“SNAP participants who purchase qualifying fruits and vegetables using their SNAP benefits will receive 100% of the dollars spent on the qualifying purchase back on their EBT card to be subsequently redeemed on the purchase of any SNAP eligible food, up to $60 per month, per household,” the United States Department of Agriculture stated in an email. Colorado plans to launch its project in April 2024.

The National Level Annual Data shows that as of March 2023, there are 42.4 million people in the U.S. enrolled in the food assistance program previously known as food stamps. This brings the total cost to $8.7 billion a year. This total does not include participation in Disaster Supplements or Replacements.

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