Some economic analysts have mixed reactions to a federal program that would pay people on food stamps if they buy more fruits and vegetables.

US Government Announces Grant For People to Eat “Healthier”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service recently announced a $25 million grant to incentivize Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants to consume more fruits and vegetables to encourage healthy eating and improve diets.

Economist Markus Bjoerkheim with the Mercatus Center said that changing people’s diets can lead to long-term savings for taxpayers.

“I think it’s important to recognize that a lot of what ultimately shows up as expensive healthcare bills down the road, which taxpayers pay for, are preventable through lifestyle changes, including of course eating more fruits and vegetables, so on some level, it’s obvious we’re not experimenting enough in this space,” Bjoerkheim said in an email to The Center Square.

Program Gets Mixed Reviews

Paul Guppy, vice president at the Washington Policy Center, had some concerns with the program.

Guppy said nothing stopped people from spending the money they get back from buying vegetables on unhealthy food.

“There’s a better way to improve nutrition for families,” Guppy said in an email to The Center Square.

“The government could simply make it so unhealthy foods cannot be bought with SNAP public money. That would directly benefit families and would provide access to the healthy foods that are necessary for life-long health and well-being. “

3 States To Receive Grant Funding

Washington, Colorado, and Louisiana will receive a total of $25 million to start and operate the electronic healthy incentives pilot (eHIP).

Washington will receive $7.6 million.

Louisiana will receive $9.5 million.

Colorado will receive $7.9 million.

“SNAP participants will receive $0.30 for every dollar of SNAP benefits spent on fruits and vegetables back onto their EBT card to be redeemed during a subsequent purchase for any SNAP-eligible food, up to $25 per month,” according to the state of Louisiana, which expects to launch the program in August 2024.

The National Level Annual Data shows that as of March 2023, 42.4 million people in the U.S. enrolled in the food assistance program previously known as food stamps. This brings the total cost to $8.7 billion a year.

This total does not include participation in Disaster Supplements or Replacements.

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