Pashinski, Kinsey legislation to stretch Pa. SNAP dollars advances

H.B. 2357 would establish the Pennsylvania Food Bucks Program

HARRISBURG, June 3 State Reps. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, and Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, applauded the advancement of their legislation that would establish a Pennsylvania Food Bucks Program out of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee earlier today with bipartisan support.

Under the program established by H.B. 2357, a Pennsylvania nonprofit would administer a program providing benefit incentives – also known as Food Bucks – to SNAP participants when they purchase certain healthy foods.

Pashinski and Kinsey said the program would promote the consumption of delicious and nutritious produce by providing a benefit incentive to SNAP participants when they purchase qualifying fruits and vegetables. These incentives — often taking the form of a paper or digital coupon issued when a shopper pays with SNAP/EBT—would allow shoppers to purchase additional fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets, corner stores, groceries, and other retailers. Similar programs have been enacted in several other states, with matching dollars available from the federal government to stretch these investments even further.

“This program would stretch critical SNAP dollars, increase consumption of healthy foods, and help boost demand for healthy products – including those grown and produced across our commonwealth,” Pashinski said. “Ensuring consistent access to nutritious food is essential to the well-being of Pennsylvanians, which is why it’s important that SNAP benefits are maximized, and healthy purchases are incentivized. The Pennsylvania Food Bucks Program would be a big step toward accomplishing both.”

Pashinski and Kinsey are the majority chairmen of the House Agriculture & Rural Affairs and House Human Services committees, respectively. While SNAP is federally administered under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the PA Department of Human Services is responsible for the program at the state level.

“The health of the people we represent is of the utmost importance, and it is crucial that we as state legislators encourage healthy eating habits among our constituents,” Kinsey said. “In addition, this program would incentivize SNAP participants to purchase these nutritious foods and further benefit them by providing additional money which is so often needed for those on SNAP.”

In addition to being voted out of the House Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, H.B. 2357 has earned the support of organizations like Feeding Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, and The Food Trust – a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to delicious, nutritious food for all.

"With grocery budgets tighter than ever, Pennsylvania families are often forced to choose between eating healthy and eating enough,” The Food Trust's President and CEO Mark Edwards said. “It's no surprise, then, that poor nutrition is a leading cause of illness in Pennsylvania, with cardiometabolic diseases continuing to cost our communities millions of dollars in annual health care costs. Nutrition incentive programs like Food Bucks have a proven track record, and this legislation would bring a triple win: for individuals, who can bring home more fruits and vegetables; farmers and small business owners, who can increase produce sales; and communities, which will see lower health care costs and more resilient economic growth over time."

House Bill 2357 moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration