Pashinski, Kinsey bill incentivizing healthy eating and stretching SNAP dollars passes PA House

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

HARRISBURG, June 12 – State Reps. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Luzerne, and Stephen Kinsey, D-Phila., today celebrated passage in the PA House of their legislation that would establish a statewide program to provide bonus benefits – called Food Bucks – to SNAP recipients purchasing qualifying fruits and vegetables.

Under the Pennsylvania Food Bucks program established by H.B. 2357, a Pennsylvania nonprofit would administer a program providing benefit incentives of no less than 40 cents for each dollar a SNAP participant spends on certain healthy foods at participating retailers.

"Today, the Pennsylvania House voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Pennsylvania Food Bucks Program, which will enable families to put more healthy food on their tables while also increasing demand at grocery stores, farmers markets, corner stores, and other food retailers that accept SNAP," Pashinski said. "This is a significant step toward ensuring that Pennsylvania families who rely on SNAP have consistent access to the essential fruits and vegetables needed for balanced nutrition."

The 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 food retailers. Similar programs have been enacted in several other states, with matching dollars available from the federal government to stretch these investments even further.

“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. “The Pennsylvania Food Bucks Program is a win-win proposition as we incentivize purchasing healthy foods and reward SNAP recipients who do so with more SNAP dollars to continue purchasing these foods. Today, we took an important step forward by voting this bill out of the House.”

House Bill 2357 is supported by Feeding Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, and The Food Trust – a nationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to delicious, nutritious food for all.

"All Pennsylvanians deserve to be able to afford the foods that support our health and help us thrive," said Mark Edwards, president & CEO of The Food Trust. "This legislation will go a long way in making the healthy choice the easy choice for families across the Commonwealth. Nutrition incentive programs like Food Bucks have the power to improve health, increase local business revenue and lift up entire communities."

The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association said, "We were pleased to see the strong bipartisan vote today on this legislation, which represents a win for recipients, retailers, and food producers in the Commonwealth. We thank Chairman Pashinski for his leadership and urge the Senate to take up this important measure."

“Legislation that increases access to nutritious foods for individuals who utilize SNAP is a win for Pennsylvania,” said Julie Bancroft, CEO of Feeding PA. “The Food Bucks Program will help Pennsylvania families experiencing food insecurity to add more highly desired healthy fruits and vegetables to their diets.”

House Bill 2357 moves to the state Senate for further consideration