Access to fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes just got a whole lot more reliable in Los Angeles with the Board of Supervisors approving of a $2 million boost to the county coffers that house funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) incentives. The move means fewer LA county kids and seniors, individuals and adults will fall between the cracks of where hunger meets nutrition insecurity.
This is especially important today as two in five Angelenos have little or no access to healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Without access to healthy foods, a nutritious diet and good health are unrealistic and can lead to chronic diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
“Food assistance programs such as SNAP help reduce food insecurity, but they do not fully meet the need that exists in our community,” explained Cathy Snuggs, a community organizer with Hunger Action Los Angeles. “SNAP incentive programs, like Market Match, are locally driven solutions that help food-insecure families stretch their food dollars to purchase additional fruits and vegetables.”
As a grantee of Voices for Healthy Kids, Hunger Action Los Angeles received the critical funding and technical assistance, which included advocacy and spokesperson trainings, necessary to make SNAP incentives expansion a success.
“SNAP incentives programs advance health equity by helping families with low incomes gain more access to healthy foods,” Snuggs continued. “They promote healthier diets and teach children healthy behaviors, establishing lifelong habits that will support their overall health and wellness. Without SNAP Incentive programs, thousands of families would be limited in their ability to purchase enough fruits and vegetables for their children.”
Hunger Action Los Angles and the American Heart Association collaborated with Boys and Girls Club, Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA), Urban and Environmental Policy Institute and United Parents and Students to secure the $2 million investment. The groups worked together to engage grassroots advocates who gave testimony and signed petitions.
“These vital programs help the county’s most vulnerable residents gain access to additional healthy foods and promote local economic growth by partnering with growers, farmers markets, grocery stores, corner stores and other retailers and small businesses,” explained Ana Carr, the community advocacy director for the American Heart Association in Los Angeles. “In fact, every $5 spent using SNAP generates as much as $9 in economic activity.”
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved the $2 million investment in early August. The County has already begun work to determine how the funds will be distributed so that local families can soon access the fruits and vegetables they need.
Carr noted that, moving forward, it will be important for the County to fund SNAP incentive programs annually to provide the ongoing support local families and businesses need.