As we’re scrambling to fix health care, food stamps are quietly paying off.

I look forward to reading the report in total but I think any market community knows that focusing on healthy food is a very good indicator of the willingness for behavior change. Of course, I’d be interested to see how many participated in incentive campaigns and/or shopped at farmers markets with their SNAP dollars.

Berkowitz’s study looked at roughly 4,400 low-income adults, about 40% of whom were on SNAP. When Berkowitz’s team compared how much the average person in each group was spending on health care, they found the SNAP group spent about $1,400 less per year.

For comparison, the average single adult on SNAP receives about $1,500 a year in benefits.

A total of 4447 participants (2567 women and 1880 men) were enrolled in the study, mean (SE) age, 42.7 (0.5) years; 1889 were SNAP participants, and 2558 were not. Compared with other low-income adults, SNAP participants were younger (mean [SE] age, 40.3 [0.6] vs 44.1 [0.7] years), more likely to have public insurance or be uninsured (84.9% vs 67.7%), and more likely to be disabled (24.2% vs 10.6%) (P < .001 for all). In age- and gender-adjusted models, health care expenditures between those who did and did not participate in SNAP were similar (difference, $34; 95% CI, −$1097 to $1165). In fully adjusted models, SNAP was associated with lower estimated annual health care expenditures (−$1409; 95% CI, −$2694 to −$125). Sensitivity analyses were consistent with these results, also indicating that SNAP participation was associated with significantly lower estimated expenditures.

Source: story

In case anyone needs convincing:

Diet is the second highest risk factor for early death after smoking. Other high risks are high blood glucose which can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, high body mass index (BMI) which is a measure of obesity, and high total cholesterol. All of these can be related to eating the wrong foods, although there are also other causes.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/sep/14/poor-diet-is-a-factor-in-one-in-five-deaths-global-disease-study-reveals

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FINI report, Year 1

In Year one, FINI supported incentive programs at almost 1,000 farmers markets, representing 4,000 direct marketing farmers in 27 states. These farmers market programs alone generated almost $8 million in SNAP and incentive sales spent on produce. Program evaluation conducted by grantees indicated uniformly high redemption rates, strong support for the program among stakeholders, and a great deal of collaboration from both public agencies and private program partners. These collaborations were particularly important in conducting outreach to SNAP recipients.

 

FINI_FarmersMarkets_Year1_FMC_170413

6 Things Paul Ryan Doesn’t Understand About Poverty (But I Didn’t, Either) 

Karen Weese is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Salon, Dow Jones Investment Advisor, the Cincinnati Enquirer, Everyday Family, and other publications.

There are many prescriptions for combating poverty, but we can’t even get started unless we first examine our assumptions, and take the time to envision what the world feels like for families living in poverty every day.

Alternet

(Webinar) Success with SNAP: Equipment and Outreach Essentials for SNAP Programs

PLEASE NOTE THE NEW TIME: Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 2 PM EST, 1 PM CST, 11 AM PST.

More than 6,000 farmers markets and farmers across the country now accept SNAP. When farmers markets accept SNAP, it helps increase revenue for small and beginning farmers, while making it possible for low-income families to access healthy, affordable food: the ultimate win-win. To assist markets with this strategy, Farmers Market Coalition will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, February 2, 2017, at 2 PM EST, 1 PM CST, 11 AM PST.

Join the webinar, as we discuss equipment and outreach essentials for SNAP Programs at your farmers market. We will provide information on how FMC’s Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program can help you accept (or continue to accept) SNAP benefits at your market, and highlight successful outreach initiatives to attract and retain SNAP customers.

Click here to register and contact info@farmersmarketcoaltion.org with questions or for more information. A recording of the webinar will also be available to view online for those who are interested but unable to attend on January 26.

2016 SNAP retailer report

Fascinating.
 This is from the 2016 SNAP retailer data report from USDA/FNS, found here. This is the kind of data that we need to pore over and gather data at the market level to compare and contrast.
Some quick data and my thoughts:
• 53 percent of the 366,972 households that shopped at a farmers’ market or direct marketing farmer made one purchase; another 18 percent made two purchases; and 29 percent made three or more purchases within the year. These percentages have remained relatively unchanged over the last five fiscal years.
So 53% only made a single purchase using their benefit card… This may correspond with the analysis from my 2013 VT Market Currency report that markets were then using a whole bunch of money and time to attract shoppers who are either at the end of their time on the SNAP rolls, or are new to SNAP and need more assistance in using their benefits, or that markets have not yet made enough changes to be welcoming for that shopping base to use their benefits at markets. So this data should be crunched with what part of that 53% has been enrolled on SNAP for ___ period of months.
The other way we should analyze this would be compared to our cash/credit shoppers too, which means we need to collect that data too in the same way. That is the kind of comparison that would tell us what the best initial strategy is for SNAP shoppers.

• In fiscal year 2016, program recipients made 1,095,107 purchases at farmers’ markets and direct marketing farmers nationwide. The average purchase amount was $18.60.

Almost 1.1 million purchases has a nice ring to it. Of course so does 10 million.That would be a great goal for the market field: 10,000,000 purchases at markets and with dmfs in a single FY by 2019. Sometimes the obsession over only measuring total dollar amount spent limits the strategy for increasing actual uses of benefits in ways that are more useful in retail terms…

•  366,972 SNAP households made at least one purchase at a farmers’ market in fiscal year 2016. Households shopping at farmers’ markets spent $55.51 on average over the course of the year.

 • More SNAP benefits were redeemed at farmers’ markets and direct marketing farmers in fiscal year 2016 during August than any other month of the year.

 

Some of this data needs to be released per state, as the August spike is likely not true in the Southern states. It’d also be great to see here which week or days of the month it spiked as well.

SNAP Update:  “Twinkies can no longer be considered bread”

      “I’m disappointed that the rules don’t go as far as what was proposed early this year,” said Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, a nutrition advocacy group. “USDA has missed an opportunity to increase the availability of and access to healthier foods for low-income Americans.”

The earlier proposals also recommended leaving food with multiple ingredients like frozen pizza or canned soup off the staple list. The outcome is a win for the makers of such products, like General Mills Inc. and Campbell Soup Co., which feared they would lose shelf space as retailers added new items to meet the requirements.

But retailers still criticized the new guidelines as too restrictive. Stores must now stock seven varieties of staples in each food category: meat, bread, dairy, and fruits and vegetables….

…More changes to the food-stamp program may lie ahead. The new rules were published a day after the House Committee on Agriculture released a report* calling for major changes to the program, which Republicans on the committee say discourages recipients from finding better-paid work.

Source: Regulators Tweak SNAP Rules for Grocers – WSJ

*Some of the findings from the 2016 Committee on Agriculture Report “Past, Present, and Future of SNAP” are below.

    • Program participation nearly doubled (up 81 percent from FY 2007 to FY 2013) as a result of the recent recession. In an average month in FY 2007, 26.3 million people (or about 9 percent of the U.S. population) were enrolled in SNAP. That increased to 47.6 million people (or about 15 percent of the U.S. population) in FY 2013, owing to the fact that the economy was slow to recover and many families remained reliant on SNAP. Even now, with a 4.6 percent unemployment rate (compared to a 9.6 percent unemployment rate for 2010), there were still 43.4 million SNAP participants as of July 2016.
    • SNAP is now a catchall for individuals and families who receive no or lower benefits from other welfare programs, largely because the eligibility criteria in SNAP are relatively more relaxed. As a result, the net effect has been to increase SNAP enrollment. For example, in the welfare reforms of 1996, the cash welfare program Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was converted into a block grant known as TANF, which has rather rigorous work and activity requirements and includes a time limit. Another program available to those who are laid off from work is Unemployment Insurance (UI). These benefits require individuals to have a work history and to be fired through no fault of their own to be eligible for assistance. UI benefits are also time-limited, typically lasting six months. A third program, Federal disability benefits, requires individuals to prove they are unable to work. For many families who have not collected SNAP in the past, SNAP is now a default option for filling in the gaps.
    • USDA data shows that spending on SNAP remains three times what it was prior to the recession ($23.09 billion pre-recession average compared to $73.99 billion post-recession in FY 2015). However, SNAP spending is now projected to be significantly lower than it was estimated at passage of the 2014 Farm Bill.
    • For FY 2017, the maximum monthly benefit in the 48 contiguous states and DC is $194 for a one-person household, $357 for a two-person household, and $649 for a four-person household.17 In determining a household’s benefit, the net monthly income of the household is multiplied by 30 percent (because SNAP households are expected to spend 30 percent of their income on food), and the result is subtracted from the maximum benefit to determine the household’s benefit.
    • Seniors have the lowest rates of SNAP participation among eligible households of any demographic. While the low participation rate has a variety of causes, a prominent explanation is the stigma associated with SNAP and welfare in general. Many factors contribute to a lack of access to food among seniors, including a lack of a substantial income, the gap between Medicaid and the cost of living, limited income with specialized diets, and mental and physical illnesses.  The issues facing these populations must be viewed holistically, with SNAP as one piece of a larger solution to solving hunger for seniors.


According to research by the AARP Foundation—a charitable affiliate of AARP—over 17 percent of adults over the age of 40 are food-insecure. Among age cohorts over age 50, food insecurity was worse for the 50-59 age group, with over 10 percent experiencing either low or very low food security. Among the 60-69 age cohort, over 9 percent experienced similar levels of food insecurity, and over 6 percent among the 70+ population.

• The operation of the program is at the discretion of each state. For instance, in California, SNAP is a county-run program. In Texas, SNAP is administered by the state… Dr. Angela Rachidi of the American Enterprise Institute cited a specific example in New York City where SNAP, WIC, school food programs, and child and adult care programs are all administered by different agencies and the result is that each agency must determine eligibility and administer benefits separately.

K. Michael Conaway, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. Hearing of the House of Representatives, Committee on Agriculture. Past, Present, and Future of SNAP. February 25, 2015. Washington, D.C.  Find report here

From CNN this week:

The number of people seeking emergency food assistance increased by an average of 2% in 2016, the United States Conference of Mayors said in its annual report Wednesday.

The majority, or 63%, of those seeking assistance were families, down from 67% a year ago, the survey found. However, the proportion of people who were employed and in need of food assistance rose sharply — increasing to 51% from 42%.

 

CNN Money report