Chefs & Local Food Advocates Head To Washington To Support Food Stamp Nutrition Incentives At Farmers Market

Press Release | Wholesome Wave | April 23, 2013

Tom Colicchio, José Andrés, & Will Allen joined Wholesome Wave CEO Michel Nischan

(Washington, D.C. – April 23, 2013) With nearly a dozen chefs at their side, local food advocates visited Capitol Hill today to encourage lawmakers to support legislation that would provide federally funded nutrition incentives in the upcoming farm bill. It is all part of a planned advocacy day for Wholesome Wave and its more than 60 partner organizations working with more than 300 farmers markets from 27 states across the country. The organizations have proven that incentives at farmers markets empower food stamp recipients to buy and eat healthy, locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables, which in turn increase revenue for local farmers and businesses.

Michel Nischan, CEO & Founder, Wholesome Wave and award-winning chef & restaurateur invited fellow award-winning and influential chefs, including Tom Colicchio and José Andrés to join Wholesome Wave as it advocated lawmakers to ensure that SNAP nutrition incentives funding is included in the upcoming Farm Bill. Nischan says, “One key message we want to get across is that food stamp consumers represent a powerful purchasing group that wants to both feed their families healthy, fresh locally-grown food and support small farm businesses.”

Tom Colicchio, Top Chef lead judge and producer of the newly released documentary, A Place at the Table, which takes a hard look at hunger in the United States, says, “Wholesome Wave and its innovative partners are proving that the use of incentives at farmers markets is one of the best ways to help people struggling to access nutritious food get healthy meals on their tables.”

Will Allen, CEO & Founder of Growing Power, a Milwaukee-based non-profit dedicated to urban agriculture, joined José Andrés as a keynote speaker for Wholesome Wave’s 4th annual convening taking place at the Madison Hotel. Both expressed their support for nutrition incentives during a news conference this afternoon.  Allen says, “All people, regardless of their economic circumstances, should have access to fresh, safe, affordable and nutritious foods at all times, and incentive programs like Wholesome Wave’s Double Value Coupon Program help make that possible.” Andrés, a long time friend of Wholesome Wave and global champion of food security and nutrition education, said, “Wholesome Wave is leading the way in finding new and innovative ways to improve local food access while also supporting local farmers, who are the nation’s first small business people.”

Gus Schumacher, Wholesome Wave’s Senior Vice President and former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at USDA, helped create the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs for vulnerable seniors and is no newcomer to the approach of providing affordability for locally grown foods to people living with poverty. The food stamp nutrition incentives provision was included in early versions of the pending farm bill, versions passed by the full Senate and approved by an earlier House Agriculture Committee draft in 2012. Schumacher says that, “Ensuring the nutrition incentive provisions remain in the final 2013 farm bill is critical to supporting the income of farmers selling at local farmers markets and helping our vulnerable families who need greater access to healthy fresh food purchasing directly from these farmers.”

Wholesome Wave and its partners across the country are leading the way in finding innovative ways to improve access to affordable, healthy, locally grown food in underserved communities. Wholesome Wave partners represents nearly 400 farmers markets, 32-hundred farmers and serve more than 40,000 Double Value Coupon Program (DVCP) consumers every year. Wholesome Wave survey data from the 2012 market season shows that:

  • 90% of DVCP consumers reported increased consumption of fresh fruits & vegetables
  • 95% of DVCP consumers said Quality of Produce was reason why they shopped at farmers market, 88% said supporting local farms & businesses was very important
  • An average of 27% of total market sales came from federal benefits and DVCP

Additional chefs who took part in Wholesome Wave’s advocacy day on Capitol Hill include, Jeremy Barlow, Rock Harper, Maria Hines, Sam Talbot and Mark Williams.

About Wholesome Wave

Wholesome Wave is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to supporting small- and mid-sized farmers and making fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables available to all people, regardless of income. Wholesome Wave partners with farmers markets, community leaders, healthcare providers, like-minded nonprofits and government entities to implement programs that benefit consumers in under-served communities and the farmers who provide for them.