AUSTIN – What we eat and drink matters to our heart and brain health. While many US food policies and programs are designed to address food insecurity, there is growing consensus that the focus should be broadened to include nutrition security. Nutrition security ensures that everyone has the resources and means to purchase or prepare healthy foods on a regular basis.
The American Heart Association is fighting alongside other Central Texas community partners so that everyone can eat healthy no matter where they live or the circumstances they are in. Policy changes to improve nutrition security have the potential to help the nearly 300,000 people in Central Texas who are living in food insecure areas.
SNAP incentive programs work by offering recipients of benefits under SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) matching financial incentives when they spend those benefits on healthy fruits and vegetables. These programs can help the 44 million people in the U.S. who participate in SNAP to buy nutritious produce. Beyond the individual dietary impacts, these programs promote healthy communities, and also act as an economic engine for the state and local economy. Farmers, grocery store owners, farmer’s market vendors and small retail stores all reap the benefit from higher sales of produce.
These programs are even more impactful now, after months of significant inflation for fresh fruits and vegetables. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, increases in produce prices have outpaced other food categories. In fact, at the end of last year, inflation for fresh fruits and vegetables was twice that of other categories like meat or fish.
While dozens of Double Up Food Bucks locations are up and running across Texas, they are largely supported with private charitable funding or grants from the federal government. Therefore, they tend to be located mainly in urban or relatively densely-populated areas. In a state like Texas, with millions of rural residents and many known areas with a lack of healthy food access, expanding the reach of programs like Double Up Food Bucks can make a significant impact in Texans’ ability to live a healthy lifestyle.
Our neighbors in the State of Oklahoma, with more than 600,000 individuals relying on SNAP benefits, recently recognized this opportunity by approving a state budget including more than $1 million in funding for the state’s Double Up Oklahoma program. It’s time for the state of Texas, which is home to more than 1.3 million SNAP recipients, to make a similar commitment to nutrition security.
You can help by joining us in being a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives by visiting https://www.yourethecure.org/join. This one stop shop will show you how to be an effective advocate for your community.