Mississippi Healthy Food and Families Program Becomes Law

July 19, 2022 - JACKSON, MISS. – The American Heart Association, as part of its effort to Grow the Good for Mississippi farmers, families, and local economies, applauds the Mississippi Legislature for passing policy to create and fund the Mississippi Healthy Food and Families Program within the Department of Agriculture. Starting July 1, the program will help families stretch their food dollars by reimbursing participating SNAP locations, such as farmers markets, to offer “double up” dollars for fresh fruits and vegetables.

hero_image_alt_text===Family in the kitchen together
thumbnail_alt_text===Family in the kitchen together

“We’re embracing the old saying, 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away,' while adopting the mantra, 'food is medicine,'” said Erin Williamson Smith, Therizo Foundation’s CEO, president and founder, and member of the Grow the Good initiative. SNAP is linked with reduced health care costs. On average, low-income adults participating in SNAP incur nearly 25% less in medical care costs. The difference is even greater for those with hypertension and coronary heart disease.

“I grew up paying reduced lunch fees in elementary school. Nearly everyone paid a reduced rate or ate free,” said Rev. K. Jason Coker, PhD, coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi and member of the Grow the Good initiative. “Food insecurity was part of my lived experience. I want better for all our kids in Mississippi.”

Without SNAP incentives, thousands of families would not be ale to afford fruits and vegetables for their children. In Mississippi, one in five people face hunger and one in four children face hunger. One in seven Mississippians receives benefits from SNAP or 455,000 Mississippi residents. In Mississippi, almost half (47.7%) of households receiving SNAP benefits have children.

In addition to improving nutrition security, the Mississippi Healthy Food and Families Program will spur economic growth. Every $5 spent on SNAP incentives puts $9 back into local economies. Through higher sales of produce, farmers, grocery store owners, farmer’s markets vendors, and small retail stores the Mississippi Healthy Food and Families Program will boost local economies and put food on the table for many hardworking families. Farmers markets in underserved areas are more likely to thrive when they accept SNAP incentives and vouchers for food at the market. Over 3,000 small businesses in Mississippi depend on SNAP and SNAP incentives to survive.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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