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Rick Crawford Representing Arkansas' First District
U.S. Congressman Rick Crawford Representing Arkansas' First District

Press Releases

REPS. CRAWFORD, KILDEE LEAD BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO INCREASE ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOOD DURING CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

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Washington, June 19, 2020

Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01), today sent a letter along with Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus in support of additional emergency funding in the next coronavirus aid bill for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), which helps to support fruit and vegetable incentive programs like Arkansas’s successful “Double Up Food Bucks” program.

GusNIP provides funding, through non-profits, to Americans on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food assistance to purchase fruits and vegetables at participating grocery stores and farmers’ markets. This program also increases the purchasing power of SNAP recipients and helps low-income families afford nutritious food. For instance, a family that spends their SNAP benefits on Arkansas-grown fruits and vegetables would receive a dollar for dollar match to buy additional fruits or vegetables, essentially doubling the value of their food assistance benefits.

The healthy food program “Double Up Food Bucks” began at Arkansas farmers markets and grocery stores to help low-income families eat more fruits and vegetables while supporting American farmers and growing local economies. In 2019, Double Up benefitted over 200 Arkansas farmers and 90% of participants said their families are eating more fruits and vegetables. The non-profit Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention currently operates DUFB in Arkansas. More information about how the Arkansas program works can be found on their website.

“GusNIP stretches families’ food budgets, incentivizes healthier options and stimulates the economy. Without an emergency increase, GusNIP grantees will be faced with exhausted funding exactly at the time they are most needed in the recovery phase of the pandemic. We urge Congress to expand USDA’s match at this critically important time by providing $51 million in emergency funding into this effective nutrition incentive program” the letter reads in part.

In addition to Crawford and Kildee, the bipartisan letter was signed by 72 other Members of Congress.

Below is the full text of the letter:

Dear Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader McCarthy:  

The 2018 Farm Bill expanded the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program, known now as the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP), because of significant bipartisan support for the program’s benefits to specialty crop farmers, food insecure families and the communities in which they reside. GusNIPincreases the purchasing power of SNAP recipients when they buy healthy fruits and vegetables at participating grocery stores and farmers markets by leveraging financial incentives like discounts, coupons and loyalty rewards. We write in support of providing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with $51 million in emergency COVID-19 relief funding to both decrease the required non-federal match funding and to meet surging program demand.

GusNIP is a competitive USDA grant that requires grantees to secure half their funding through state budget appropriations and philanthropic sources. Both have shrunk due to the pandemic, at a time of exponential need.  

Fruit and vegetable producers across the country are facing significant financial stress as the pandemic disrupts normal channels of business, especially sales to institutional and food service buyers. Total economic losses of $1.3 billion are forecast in local and regional markets, during March through May 2020 alone.  

Specific estimates are unavailable for how many of the newly unemployed are food insecure, however, there are staggering statistics that help illustrate the growing need across the country.  As of May 28, and over the past ten weeks, over 40 million jobless claims have been filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, and 36 states have been approved by USDA to operate Pandemic-EBT. The latter reflects the needs of school children, whereas across the country, prior to schools closing, approximately 21 million received free and reduced-price school meals daily.

GusNIP stretches families’ food budgets, incentivizes healthier options and stimulates the economy. Without an emergency increase, GusNIP grantees will be faced with exhausted funding exactly at the time they are most needed in the recovery phase of the pandemic. We urge Congress to expand USDA’s match at this critically important time by providing $51 million in emergency funding into this effective nutrition incentive program.

Sincerely,

Representatives Daniel T. Kildee (MI-05), Rick Crawford (AR-01), Alma S. Adams (NC-12), Ralph Abraham (LA-05), Brendan F Boyle (PA-02), Don Bacon (NE-02), Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Jim R. Baird (IN-04), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Rodney Davis (IL-13), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Ed Case (HI-01), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), J.Luis Correa (CA-46), TJ Cox (CA-21), Jason Crow (CO-06), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Jeff Fortenberry (NE-01), French Hill (AR-02), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), John Katko (NY-24), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Peter T. King (NY-02), Roger Marshall (KS-01), David B. McKinley (WV-01), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05), Val Demings (FL-10), Carol Miller (WV-03), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Dan Newhouse (WA-04), Austin Scott (GA-08), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Bill Foster (IL-11), Mike Simpson (ID-02), Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Jared Golden (ME-02), Steve Stivers (OH-15), Josh Harder (CA-10), Glenn Thompson (PA-15), Denny Heck (WA-10), Fred Upton (MI-06), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Joseph P, Kennedy, III (MA-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Jimmy Panetta (CA-20), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Ed Perlmutter (CO-O7), Jim Langevin (RI-02), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Andy Levin (MI-09), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), David Price (NC-04), Sean Maloney (NY-18), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Nydia M. Velazquez (NY-07), Linda Sanchez (CA-38), Peter Welch (VT), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Kim Schrier (WA-08), Darren Soto (FL-09), David Scott (GA-13), Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Joyce Beatty (OH-03).

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