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New White House Report Highlights Benefits of Food Stamps

Fresh Bucks program fills the “SNAP gap” described in new White House report on long term benefits of food stamps.

FreshBucksA new report on the benefits of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also called “food stamps”) released by the White House Council of Economic Advisors finds that SNAP benefits are very effective in combating hunger and poverty, as well as improving short term and long term maternal and child health outcomes, and academic achievement for kids. Despite the positive impact SNAP is making in the fight against hunger, millions of households across America still experience food insecurity. In King County alone, local data show that 13% of all King County households ran out of food and didn’t have enough money to buy more, and that people of color, especially Latinos, are disproportionately impacted by hunger.

This new report shows that one of the reasons hunger persists is that SNAP benefits aren’t sufficient: the vast majority of benefits run out by the end of the second and third week of every month, leaving households without enough food.

Seattle’s Fresh Bucks program (developed and managed by the Office of Sustainability & Environment) is an innovative and nationally recognized local solution to filling this “SNAP gap” to improve health and economic stability while supporting a more sustainable, healthy food system for all. Fresh Bucks helps low income Seattle residents stretch their food budgets by matching their SNAP benefits dollar for dollar (up to $10 per visit) when they shop at local farmers markets, where they can use Fresh Bucks to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Zach, a Seattle resident (98105) commented that Fresh Bucks is “the only way to make my food stamps last and allow me to eat healthy on my paycheck.”

Fresh Bucks will expand in the coming year, thanks to a new federal Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive grant, as well as support from local partners and funders. Soon Fresh Bucks vouchers will be available for SNAP shoppers at 8 participating King County farmers markets, as well as through weekly produce box programs with Pike Place Market and Seattle Tilth. Partnering with low-income health care clinics will be a new model for Fresh Bucks, as well: health care providers will offer fruit and vegetable “prescriptions” for patients with food hardship or diet-related chronic diseases, like diabetes, to be able to afford the food they need to get healthier.

To read the full White House report on SNAP, see: