H.3250 – Creating a new state entitlement program to supplement SNAP

H.3250 would create a state entitlement program to supplement federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) dollars in an attempt to incentivize SNAP recipients to buy fruit and vegetables. This program would be called the “Fruit and Vegetable SNAP Grant Program.” Under this program, every time an individual used his SNAP benefits to purchase produce, he would be allocated additional funds from the state grant program, which in turn could only be used for produce. The bill does not specify how much the additional allocation would be, or any cap on the benefits an individual could receive in this way.

Legislators would allocate money to this fund, and the Department of Social Services (DSS) would distribute administer it. The bill would also require DSS to coordinate with grocery stores and farmers markets across the state to administer the program.

It is unclear what problem this bill is attempting to solve – whether the amount of SNAP benefits low-income families is too little, or whether the recipients are misusing those benefits. Either way, the problem should be addressed at the SNAP program level itself. Under no circumstances should lawmakers create a new state-level entitlement program. Finally, it should be noted that lawmakers’ approach to the SNAP program has been less-than-transparent since 2013, when they moved federal SNAP spending out of the state appropriations bill and to an unbudgeted account.

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