U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee announces Local Food for Healthy Families Act while at Saginaw Farmers Market

August 26, 2013

Source: MLive.com
Author: Heather Jordan

SAGINAW, MI — U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, stopped by the Downtown Saginaw Farmers Market to announce the Local Food for Healthy Families Act he plans to introduce in Congress next month.

Kildee conducted a press conference at the market, 507 S. Washington, at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23, to talk about the bill, his second in Congress.

If it passes, the bill would expand funding for programs such as Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks, a food incentive program that gives state residents on food assistance more purchasing power to buy locally-grown produce at participating farmers markets, according to a news release issued Friday.

“There's been a battle in Congress since I've been there over the nutrition section of the FARRM (Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management) bill,” Kildee said during the press conference. “…There have been efforts to dramatically cut the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance) program, in particular — a program that provides basic sustenance to a people who are living at or below poverty.

“What I'm proposing, the Local Food for Healthy Families Act, which I will introduce on Sept. 9 when I go back to Congress after our summer recess ends, is to substantially increase the money available for SNAP and … the Double Up Food Bucks program. Currently there's $5 million that's available, and that's matched by locally generated matching funds in the states that provide for the SNAP incentives. We would increase that to $25 million, giving $50 million of purchasing power to people who can shop at a farmers market, like this one, and get healthy fruits and vegetables.”

Rep. Dan Kildee, left, tries a miniature plum with Rachel Bair, program director of Double Up Food Bucks, at the Downtown Saginaw Farmers' Market, Friday, August 23, 2013, after speaking about the Local Food for Healthy Families Act he plans to introduce in Congress next month. Bair works with farmers markets all over Michigan to promote local buying. Photo: Katie Bailey | MLive.com

Downtown Saginaw Farmers Market Chairwoman Julie Darnton welcomed Kildee and spoke in favor of the act.

“That legislation has the potential to really improve the amount of money that's going directly from our local families that need assistance to local farmers who are growing great fresh produce here in Saginaw and the Great Lakes Bay area,” Darnton said. “…Programs like Double Up (Food) Bucks, the SNAP program, they just encourage all of that to be directed to our local farmers, and those families that are in need to get good, fresh, healthy food.”

In June, Kildee offered an amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act that would provide an additional $5 million a year to implement or expand food incentive programs, such as Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks, to encourage the consumption of locally-grown produce and allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients to maximize their food assistance benefits, according to a news release.

Congressman Dan Kildee talks about living on food stamps budget
U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, on Friday, Aug. 23, talks about what it was like to live on $31.50 worth of food for one week — the average food stamps budget for one person.

Also in June, Kildee announced that he would live for a week on an average food stamps budget of $31.50, or $4.50 a day.

The weekly budget bought one onion, four small chicken thighs, a package of rice, half gallon of milk, five bananas, a package of tea bags, a loaf of bread, a can of corn, six packs of Ramen Noodles, five cans of tuna, two boxes of pasta, tomato sauce and a pound of ground turkey on sale, MLive Media Group/The Flint Journal previously reported.

My new legislation in Congress, the Local Food for Healthy Families Act, encourages and gives Michiganders the choice to effectively double their dollars and buy fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables at farmers markets across the state,” Kildee stated in the news release. “Expanding successful programs like the Double Up Food Bucks program, as my bill would do, would pump millions of dollars into our local economy. It also would support Michigan’s family farmers who, throughout the summer and fall, come to sell their produce our state’s open air markets like here in Saginaw.”

First posted on MLive.com on August 23, 2013. Heather Jordan covers Saginaw Township news and business for MLive/The Saginaw News/Bay City Times. She can be reached at 989-450-2652 or hjordan@mlive.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.