By Corinna Borden
According to the Michigan Food Stamp Calculator, a single person earning $1,000 in Social Security income a month, with a $300 monthly rent payment, would be eligible for $66 in food stamp benefits that month. Say this person lived in Detroit, without a car, and wanted to purchase food. According to Oran Hesterman, inaugural president and CEO of Fair Food Network, “60 percent of all food stamp benefits are redeemed in liquor stores, party stores, and gas station convenience stores. People are doing their grocery shopping at gas stations. Detroit is not unique, it is happening all over the country.”
When I taught in Washington, D.C., a student came to school one day with marshmallows and Cheetos for lunch. Think about the dietary repercussions of such “food” – day in day out. Think about the $70 billion a year of your tax money spent on food stamps where 60 percent of that contributes to our pandemic of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity – welcome to our health care.
Fair Food Network’s solution to this Gordian Knot is simple: encourage people to spend their food stamp benefits on local produce, chronicle the benefits and evidence scientifically, and change the policy in Washington, D.C. Their Double Up Food Bucks program matches every food stamp dollar spent at a farmer’s market, up to $20 per visit.
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