Food assistance could get boost from Kildee’s legislation

By: - July 25, 2023 12:00 pm

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Twp.) speaks at a rally at the Flint Farmers’ Market on Oct. 28, 2022. (Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Legislation to expand access to food assistance programming by increasing federal matching funds was introduced Tuesday by U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.) and Dan Kildee (D-Flint).

Currently, GusNIP nutrition assistance programs, programs that are a part of a federal initiative to improve the nutritional value of food available to low-income households, get 50% funding from the state and 50% from federal spending. The legislation aims to expand the number of states participating in programs and increase the number of people served by allowing up to 80% of funding for a state’s programming to come from the federal government,

In Michigan, this means “Double Up Food Bucks,” a program that allows individuals using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP benefits, to double their fruit and vegetable intake by receiving a dollar-for-dollar match on purchases of locally grown produce.

Flint Farmers' Market
The Flint Farmers’ Market near downtown Flint | Derek Robertson

Additional federal funding will take a program that already does a lot of good in Michigan and expand it to help more people, Kildee said in a news release Tuesday

“Increasing access to local fruits and vegetables supports farmers and makes our community healthier,” Kildee said in the news release. “Successful programs like Double Up Food Bucks are making a positive impact on our community.” 

The Fiscal Year 2024 budget the state Legislature approved, which now awaits Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature, includes $2 million of spending for the Double Up Food Bucks program. According to Kildee’s office, states like Michigan that already dedicate funding for GusNIP programming could receive more funding for those programs as federal matching would increase with the legislation.

Kildee’s Republican colleague Congressman Crawford adds that as federal lawmakers work on a new Farm Bill, which sets long term policy for agriculture, it’s a good idea to solidify GusNIP’s place as a valuable initiative.

“Rising food costs have made it even more difficult for families to afford to make healthy choices at the grocery store,” Crawford said. “Incentivizing folks to purchase more fruits and vegetables not only improves their health but is an investment in our farmers.”

Kildee’s office says organizations like the American Heart Association, the Fair Food Network, the Farmers Market Coalition and Save the Children are in support of the legislation.

Expanding programming is going to help people with limited financial resources not only combat food insecurity, but invest in their overall health, Lauri Wright, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said.

With hunger on the rise, Food Bank Council asks the Michigan Legislature to boost funding

“Programs like GusNIP improve nutrition security for individuals and families with limited financial resources and those experiencing the greatest health disparities,” Wright said. “A meal pattern that is rich in fruits and vegetables helps decrease people’s risk of diet-related chronic diseases, yet nine out of 10 people do not meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”

More than 200 community supported agriculture programs, grocery stores, farm stands and farmers markets provide the Double Up Food Bucks program in michigan, growing from only five providers in 2009, according to the release from Kildee’s office. A large portion of those providers are farmer’s markets.

Locally, the Flint Farmers market offers its support of expanding programming to more Michiganders.

“Since it began over a decade ago, the Fair Food Network Double Up Food Bucks Program has changed the face of the Flint Farmers Market.  It has made a lasting impact on the health of families in need and simultaneously supported farmers along the way,” Karianne Martus, market manager of Flint Farmers Market said. “I truly cannot imagine our market or our community without Double Up Food Bucks as a part of it.”


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Anna Liz Nichols
Anna Liz Nichols

Anna Liz Nichols covers government and statewide issues, including criminal justice, environmental issues, education and domestic and sexual violence. Anna is a former state government reporter for The Associated Press and most recently was a reporter for the Detroit News. Anna is a graduate of Michigan State University.