From apples and asparagus to blueberries and bell peppers to cherries, potatoes, sweet corn and tomatoes, Michigan’s soil produces much of the food we stock our pantries and refrigerators with. While these fruits and vegetables grow across the state, not all Michiganders have been able to easily access them. But, that’s about to change.
Michigan just added $1 million to its Double Up Food Bucks program thanks to the state legislature’s unanimous support of a mid-year supplemental bill that allows Michigan to spend funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That means more families can stock their kitchens with more Michigan-grown produce.
“This investment is just one way we are directly making sure Michigan kids are able to get access to the healthy, nutritious foods their bodies and minds need,” said Jared Burkhart, the executive director of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MIAAP).
The Double Up Food Bucks program doubles the value of federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits spent at participating farmers markets and grocery stores. Those sales not only benefit Michigan businesses, but also Michigan farmers.
“Many farmers have seen their supply chains disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alex Canepa, the state policy manager for the Fair Food Network. “Some wholesale contracts have dried up with the closure of restaurants, schools and workplaces. This extra $1 million in Double Up Food Bucks gets money back into their pockets while also making sure families are eating nutritious foods.”
This success is thanks to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Legislature for putting federal funding into action throughout the state to benefit those who need it most. Many organizations including the MIAAP, the Fair Food Network and American Heart Association advocated for SNAP funding support. Michigan’s House and Senate unanimously approved the enhanced funding and the governor signed it into law on July 1, 2020.
MIAAP and the American Heart Association-Michigan are both former Voices for Healthy Kids grantees that worked on SNAP and Healthy Food Financing Initiatives (HFFI) policies. During their grant periods, ranging from 2015 through 2019, they made significant headway to support healthy food access among food insecure children, adults and families in the state. They continue their commitment to health and nutrition as a 2020 Voices for Healthy Kids grantee focusing on school nutrition policies.