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New Law Helps Low-Income Families Stretch Food Dollars

Oran Hesterman from the Fair Food Network and Anchi Mei from the International Rescue Committee discuss with Evening Edition Host Peggy Pico how a new law is helping low income families get food.

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A new California law will help low-income families stretch their food dollars with healthy food choices and support farmers by expanding their markets.

The California Nutrition Incentives Act will leverage federal grants to provide a dollar-for-dollar match to people who shop at farmers markets and who are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

San Diego already has some similar programs like Fresh Fund, but this law will make it easier for farmers markets, said Anchi Mei, manager of Food Security and Community Health at the International Rescue Committee in San Diego.

"Low income people do want fresh fruits and vegetables," she said. "It's not about choice, it's about the cost, and the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is just so high."

The popularity of existing programs shows the desire low-income shoppers have for fresh produce, she said.

Since 2009, the Fresh Fund program has served 10,000 San Diegans, she said. This year, the program is nearing 1,000 residents.

Fair Food Network president Oran Hesterman started the Double-Up-Food-Bucks program in Michigan and said its public-private partnership model works well. The same model will be used in California.

Hesterman, also the author of "Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All," is now working to expand it to grocery stores across the county.

"We have found that grocers, like farmers, are really excited about this," he said.


The Food Fair Network's Double-Up-Food-Bucks program expands access to healthy food for low-income residents in Michigan by doubling the value of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits - SNAP.


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