02 February 2017

#EndHungerNow: Increasing SNAP Benefits Promotes Healthy Eating

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), a leading voice in Congress in the fight against hunger, called for a strong investment in anti-hunger programs like SNAP ...

mr. speaker recent USDA report on foods

typically purchased by snap households has sparked conversation in the press and on Capitol Hill about ways to promote healthy eating among those who rely on snap benefits quite frankly I'm troubled by the way the report has been characterized and by some of the responses flashy headlines and convenient sound bites selectively highlighting findings that tell only half the story are damaging to what should be our shared goal of ensuring that our most vulnerable neighbors have the support they need for their families in fact one of the key findings we report is that the spending habits by snap households and non snap households are very similar and I think it's safe to say that all of us can be making healthier choices when it comes to the food that we eat but if we want to talk about promoting healthy eating among those who rely on snap we need to start by enhancing and making further investments in nutrition education programs increasing access to healthy foods in underserved communities and expanding pilots that have proven effective in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption most importantly

mr. speaker we need to increase SNAP benefits so low income families have the ability to purchase healthier foods the last Congress the House Agriculture Committee completed a thorough review of snap 17 hearings as ranking member of the nutrition subcommittee i participated in each of these hearings and we heard time and time and time again there's a current snap benefit which averages a dollar forty per person per meal is inadequate it's hard to buy a cup of coffee these days for a dollar forty this meager benefit is often too low for families to stave off hunger during the month and certainly does not provide enough support to allow families to maintain healthy diets on a consistent basis without additional benefits we know that people are making very difficult choices they have to choose between food or medicine between food for their families or stable housing research from the center on budget and policy priorities has found that increasing SNAP benefits by a mere thirty dollars per month with lower food insecurity decreased as food consumption and increase vegetable consumption similarly USDA's healthy

incentives pilot provided snap recipients in Hampden County Massachusetts with additional benefits if they purchase targeted fruits and vegetables and it was highly successful the result was an increase in healthy food consumption participants in this pilot consumed twenty-six percent more targeted fruits and vegetables per day and spent more of their SNAP benefits on these items than did non-participant so we know that low-income families who rely on snap have to make difficult choices and trying to stretch their meal budgets and often select cheaper foods that contain refined grains and added sugars and fats the research from the Center on Budget and the results of projects such as the one of Massachusetts confirm what we know to be true providing additional resources for food to families living in poverty will enable them to make healthier choices for themselves and their families we should not be demonizing the poor by policing their shopping carts mr. speaker it's far too easy and is become far too commonplace for those of us with steady incomes and paychecks to provide us with access to the healthiest food to

second guess the choices of these families struggling that make ends meet it's insulting and it is mean-spirited and more than a little hypocritical to suggest that we kneel plan for those living in poverty while we continue feeding our families the same foods to some of the some of some of us suggest we should limit in our anti-hunger programs eating more nutritious foods should be a goal for all of us mr. speaker it will lead to better health reduce medical costs more engaged kids or 80 are able to learn better and also more productive adults but if we're going to promote healthier eating and work to end hunger now we must start by increasing the current SNAP benefits and I would say to all any of my colleagues who doubt this you tried living how to snap budget you try living on a dollar forty per person per meal you would you will find it not only difficult to put food on the table but especially challenge the challenging to make nutritious and healthy choices as we consider the next farm bill let us enhance the snap benefit it is the right thing to do data you back my time the gentleman

yields back the chair recognize