Congress-Approved Farm Bill Honors Wholesome Wave Co-Founder, Gus Schumacher

Congress-Approved Farm Bill Honors Wholesome Wave Co-Founder, Gus Schumacher

News

Congress-Approved Farm Bill Honors Wholesome Wave Co-Founder, Gus Schumacher

December 13, 2018
     
Michel Nischan and Gus Schumacher, Photo credit: Eric Vitale
Michel Nischan and Gus Schumacher, Photo credit: Eric Vitale

Wholesome Wave is proud to announce that the 2018 Farm Bill renames FINI (Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive) to be the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, honoring the work of Wholesome Wave’s late co-founder and former US Undersecretary of Agriculture. 

The 2018 Farm Bill provides permanent funding for the FINI grant program, which boosts fruit and vegetable consumption for SNAP participants through incentives. In addition, it defends essential nutrition needs of millions of Americans by stripping a proposed SNAP work requirement, reauthorizes nutrition incentive programs nationwide for food-insecure Americans, allocates funding for produce prescription programs, and offers relief for tariff-affected farmers. It was overwhelmingly supported across both sides of the political aisle in the US Congress this week. 

The bill, which reauthorizes and increases funding for nutrition incentive programs, supports the founding principle of Wholesome Wave: poverty should never be an obstacle to healthy food. Founded in 2007, Wholesome Wave was the first organization to launch nutrition incentive programs nationwide and its Network members have operated incentive programs in 49 states. In 2014, Congress added FINI to the federal Farm Bill, providing $100 million in nutrition incentives for people relying on SNAP. This was inspired by Wholesome Wave’s national success and fueled by the advocacy efforts of Schumacher and Wholesome Wave co-founder and CEO Michel Nischan.    

“It is important to note that, during these challenging political times, it was the Republican-held house agriculture committee that passed the resolution naming FINI after Gus in this version of the Farm Bill,” commented Nischan, a four-time James Beard Award Winning Chef and Lifetime Ashoka Fellow. “This is because Gus, as an Undersecretary of Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services during the Clinton Administration, was able to garner tremendous respect across all sides of the aisle as a Democrat. His belief that all Americans, regardless of income, should be able to choose healthy fruits and vegetables for their families is now made whole by this important legislation.”

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), who introduced the bill with Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI) in April 2018, shared: “Gus Schumacher was one of America’s strongest voices in the fight to end hunger and a local food champion who helped connect farmers with families in need. Naming this program after him is a beautiful tribute to a lifetime working to ensure hungry families have access to the fruits and vegetables they need.”

Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program, Wholesome RxTM, also has the potential to secure funding and expand through this new legislation, which allocates federal dollars to demonstrate and evaluate the impact of produce prescription programs for low-income individuals and families. Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) introduced the Local Farm Acts bill in October 2017 which, among other things, proposed to “create a new food-as-medicine pilot program to support fruit and vegetable prescriptions for low-income individuals,” which was ultimately incorporated into the 2018 Farm Bill. Representative Pingree commented: “Produce prescription programs—like one run by national nonprofit Wholesome Wave—allow doctors not only to write scripts for healthy foods, but to distribute vouchers so that patients can buy these products from local vendors. In Los Angeles, Wholesome Wave reported that 93 percent of participants met produce-consumption guidelines by the end of the program.” 

Overall, this bill is a huge win for food justice and the more than 66 million Americans who struggle to afford healthy food on a daily basis. Thank you to the members of Congress who supported these efforts.