Blog post written by Intern Meriah M.
Innovative Solutions to Food Insecurity in the NH General Court — HB 1638
How can New Hampshire best serve its citizens who struggle to access affordable, nutritious food? Representative Joelle Martin of Milford introduced House Bill 1638 this session seeking to provide an answer.
The New Hampshire Nutrition Incentives Network has worked to increase affordable access to locally grown food since 2013 through the Granite State Market Match Program, which allows shoppers using SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) to double their buying power at farmers markets. When shoppers spend their SNAP dollars at participating markets, they receive a corresponding amoung of Market Match dollars that can be spent on fruits or vegetables. For the cost of $10, a shopper can leave the market with $20 worth of food, creating an incentive to shop and eat local, healthy foods while stretching a grocery budget.
While Granite State Market Match has made significant differences in the lives of the residents that it serves, it is currently only reaching 2% of New Hampshire’s SNAP recipients because it has been operating as a pilot program supported by the federal grants. There is tremendous opportunity for Granite State Market Match and other nutrition incentive programs to grow with state funding.
Here is where Representative Martin’s bill matters: House Bill 1638 would continue to support and expand equitable access to healthy food by providing $150,000 in state funding to nutrition incentive programs, including Market Match. This financial support would allow for nutrition incentive programs to reach more SNAP recipients, providing healthier, locally sourced meals for more New Hampshire residents.
The local, community-based nature of nutrition incentive programs provides added benefits. The Market Match program helps farmers to access a previously untapped revenue stream: SNAP dollars. For some market vendors, 20% of their revenue comes from SNAP shoppers.
HB 1638 received a hearing in January before the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee in which many individuals and organizations testified to the success and importance of nutrition incentive programs in New Hampshire.
As legislators review this bill, the voices of New Hampshire residents strongly influence their perspective. You can support the affordable access to healthy, local foods and the efforts of Seacoast Eat Local by contacting the committee by phone (271-3589) or by email ([email protected]).