Louisiana to Be Part of Fresh Approach to Encourage SNAP Participants to Eat Healthier
Louisiana – Louisiana will be part of a new initiative to encourage SNAP participants to eat healthier.
The Food and Nutrition Service of the US Department of Agriculture recently declared that Louisiana has been granted $9.5 million to trial a fresh approach to encourage the purchase of fruits and vegetables among participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In addition to Louisiana, Colorado, and Washington will also receive a combined total of $25 million, and federal assistance to develop and execute an electronic healthy incentives pilot program aimed at making incentives more efficient and accessible for SNAP households. This endeavor seeks to provide SNAP participants with greater access to nutritious food options, which is vital for maintaining good health and well-being throughout their lives.
As part of the eHIP initiative, each of the participating states will be upgrading their SNAP systems to allow for the direct loading of incentive dollars onto Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. The purpose of these pilot programs is to test new incentive models that can help reduce administrative costs, ultimately allowing for more incentive dollars to reach those in need.
In Louisiana, the focus of the project will be on marginalized communities with high levels of food insecurity, such as tribal, rural, low-income, and low-access areas where residents are particularly vulnerable to diet-related diseases. As part of the program, SNAP participants in Louisiana will receive a bonus of $0.30 for every dollar of SNAP benefits spent on fruits and vegetables. This bonus will be automatically loaded onto their EBT cards and can be redeemed during a subsequent purchase for any SNAP eligible food, up to a maximum of $25 per month.
The state of Louisiana plans to launch this program in August of 2024.
“USDA is committed to ensuring every family has access to affordable, nutritious foods.” said Stacy Dean, USDA deputy under secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “We applaud the selected states for stepping up and partnering with us to test and ultimately improve SNAP incentive programs. Together we will learn more about what works and pave the way for similar programs across the country.”
According to the Department of Children and Family Services, SNAP incentive programs have been found to be a highly effective way of promoting healthy eating habits and enhancing nutrition security. Extensive research has indicated that participants in SNAP programs who receive fruit and vegetable incentives tend to consume a significantly larger quantity of these essential food groups, with an increase of up to 26% per day, compared to non-participants. This heightened demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, in turn, helps to strengthen the overall food supply chain, benefitting both producers and consumers alike.
“In Louisiana, we are always looking for additional ways to help strengthen families and support our neighbors in need. Increasing access to fruits and vegetables through SNAP healthy incentives is another part of that effort,” said Terri Ricks, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services.
As federal nutrition assistance programs continue to evolve, more and more partners at the local level are implementing innovative initiatives to promote healthy eating among SNAP recipients. These programs offer incentives that not only attract SNAP customers to local stores, but also provide opportunities for retailers to make a positive impact in their communities by making healthy foods more affordable. In fact, many state, local, and tribal governments, SNAP-authorized retailers, as well as non-profit and for-profit organizations are interested in launching their own SNAP healthy incentive program. Interested parties can find out more information and submit applications on the FNS website. These incentive programs can operate at a single location or be expanded across multiple stores, providing greater access to healthy food options for American families.