Statement of Cassie Harrison-Ramos, Senior Policy Associate

The Center for Science in the Public Interest backs the GusNIP Improvement Act of 2023 (S.2577), which would increase federal funding for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). GusNIP provides people using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) with financial resources that make fruits and vegetables more affordable.

SNAP participants strongly support policies that make it easier and cheaper to purchase fruits and vegetables. This is in line with a recent U.S. Department of Agriculture study that found that most SNAP participants understand the importance of a healthy diet but struggle to afford nutritious foods. Additionally, eating fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of diet-related diseases, but people with lower incomes have additional difficulties consuming the recommended amounts compared to the rest of the population due to systemic inequalities that limit household financial resources and hence household food choices.

GusNIP incentives help SNAP participants obtain affordable, healthy food, and has been shown to increase food security and fruit and vegetable consumption. But the program currently does not support incentives for everyone who uses SNAP. The bill would nearly triple GusNIP’s annual funding level and would decrease (and in some cases eliminate) the amount that states must contribute to GusNIP grants. This would encourage states’ participation in GusNIP as federal funds would cover more of the costs of the incentive program. The bill also creates new grant tiers to scale up existing GusNIP programs.

CSPI thanks Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) for introducing S.2577 and prioritizing increasing access to affordable, nutritious foods for people who participate in SNAP. We urge Congress to include the GusNIP Improvement Act in the 2023 Farm Bill. 

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