State Assembly Approves Healthy Eating Incentive Program For FoodShare Recipients

From Wisconsin Public Radio, November 6, 2017.

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Food stamp recipients would get discounts for buying healthy food under a bill approved Tuesday by the state Assembly.

Under the proposal, the state Department of Health Services would be required to launch a pilot program to offer FoodShare recipients discounts on healthy items, like up to half-off purchases of fresh produce.

“We want to see if we can actually change people’s behavior, because by eating healthier we hope that we can reduce health care expenses in the long term,” said Rep. Mike Rohrkaste, R-Neenah. “This is a common sense approach. It’s literally a carrot approach, rather than a stick.”

The Assembly voted 92-1 to send the bipartisan bill to the state Senate. Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, cast the lone no vote.

Supporters of the plan say it will encourage healthy eating habits and possibly reduce health care costs. They also say healthier foods can be more expensive, because of market demands, and this measure would help level the playing field for lower-income families.

About 2,000 households would participate in the program, which would last about 10 months. The pilot is projected to cost the state about $600,000, according to DHS.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Friday he expects the Assembly to vote on another proposed food stamp pilot program early next year. That proposal would bar people from using food stamps to buy foods that don’t meet certain nutritional standards.

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