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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 29, 2020 01:52 PM
From: Representative Eddie Day Pashinski and Rep. Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: PA Preferred Healthy Bucks Pilot Program to assist SNAP recipients
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our local, regional, and national food systems – hurting both consumers and producers. We hear stories of farmers forced to euthanize animals and destroy crops because there’s simply nowhere to go – while at the very same time we see unprecedented need for food assistance programs like SNAP in Pennsylvania and across the country. These programs provide critical nourishment for our families, but often it is barely enough.

That’s why in the near future we intend to introduce legislation establishing the PA Preferred Healthy Bucks Pilot Program to last no less than three years, with the option to become permanent if successful. Not only would this program help stretch critical SNAP dollars and increase consumption of healthy foods, but it also increases the demand for products grown and produced across our Commonwealth. The program would provide a benefit worth a minimum of fifty cents to a SNAP participant for every one dollar of SNAP benefits redeemed by the SNAP participant for the targeted healthy food items.
SNAP items eligible for this bonus would include qualifying fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen or dried), and must be grown in Pennsylvania or include the PA Preferred® trademark. Under this legislation, promotion for this program would be done in conjunction with the PA Preferred® program to maximize efficient use of resources and increase the brands visibility.
Initial funding for the program would be obtained by directing the Department of Human Services to work with a qualified PA non-profit and the Department of Agriculture to apply for a federal grant through The Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) and/or any other available federal or private grants for which this program may qualify. The General Assembly may appropriate additional funding as desired.

Pilot programs similar to this have shown promise in other states under normal circumstances and we believe this program could have an even more dramatic impact in these extraordinary times. For example, participants in Massachusetts’s Healthy Incentive Pilot (HIP) consumed 26% more targeted fruits and vegetables than did nonparticipantsImagine what a difference that kind of surge in demand for healthy and PA produced foods could do for our farmers and our families. That’s why we’re asking you to please join us in co-sponsoring this important and timely piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB1275