Post by Seacoast Eat Local Intern and UNH Student Meriah M.
Who is Gus Schumacher?
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be found in all of America’s kitchens regardless of the income of the household, however, access to affordable produce is out of financial reach for many low-income families. Gus Schumacher had served as an advocate for these families since 1980 in his capacity as an agricultural policy leader and Co-Founder of Wholesome Wave, an organization dedicated to supporting the healthy food purchasing ability of underserved families.
Schumacher championed the importance of healthy food access, conceiving a program that would motivate low-income consumers to buy more fruits and vegetables by increasing their purchasing power and in turn, their ability to purchase healthy food. The power and reach of Schumacher’s innovative new approach to promoting fruit and vegetable consumption among underserved populations expanded to a broad network of what are now known as Nutrition Incentive Programs supported by federal grants, including Seacoast Eat Local’s very own Market Match. When Gus Schumacher died in 2017, the nutrition incentive grant program was renamed to the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), honoring Schumacher’s dedication to universal access to affordable fruits and vegetables.
We have Schumacher’s innovative agricultural spirit and passion for food access to thank for the implementation of many nutrition incentive programs. After gaining diverse experience in various food and agricultural sectors, Schumacher went on to serve as Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, where he oversaw the Farm Service Agency, the Foreign Agricultural Service, and the Risk Management Agency. Schumacher made invaluable contributions to the Department of Agriculture, impacting the lives of food assistance recipients, farmers, and his colleagues alike.
In Schumacher’s role as founder and Vice President of Wholesome Wave, he increased the ability of low-income people to access healthy, local foods that spurred the creation of similar programs across the country. Wholesome Wave was built on the Double Value Coupon Program, the same dollar for dollar fruit and vegetable match program that Granite State Market Match provides today.
Gus Schumacher’s death on September 24th of 2017 was met with great sadness, and his loss was felt deeply by all those in his life, including those involved in his food access advocacy work. It is with great appreciation for Schumacher that nutrition incentive programs move forward, serving his mission to provide healthy, delicious, farm-grown food to all.