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The Minnesota Department of Human Services provides Minnesotans with a variety of services intended to help people live as independently as possible.

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SNAP+ helps Minnesotans eat healthier

Partners in the SNAP+ pilot program announced the launch at Almsted’s Fresh Market in Crystal June 21. Pictured left to right: Ross Safford, outreach specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension’s Simply Good Eating program; Jim Almsted, owner of Almsted’s Fresh Market; Jamie Pfuhl, president of the Minnesota Grocers Association; and Lucinda Jesson, DHS commissioner.A new pilot program is helping low-income Minnesotans purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables.
 
This summer, when a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipient purchases $5 or more in fresh fruits and vegetables with their Electronic Benefit Transfer card at one of three participating stores, they will receive a $5 coupon toward their next purchase of fresh produce at the store.
 
Over the course of the SNAP+ pilot, which runs June 15 to Sept. 30, approximately 30,000 coupons will be delivered to customers at Almsted’s Fresh Market in Crystal, Teal’s Market in Cass Lake and Super One Foods in Duluth. The participating stores are located in both rural and metropolitan areas with high poverty rates, health disparities and demonstrated need for healthier eating.
 
“We are excited about the SNAP+ pilot because it puts healthy food directly in the hands of those who need it,” Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said. “Getting businesses, communities, organizations and government together is the best way to ensure Minnesotans get the nutritious food they need to lead healthy lives.” 
 
Ross Safford, outreach specialist with the University of Minnesota Extension’s Simply Good Eating program, demonstrates how to use fresh produce and other healthy ingredients at Almsted’s Fresh Market in Crystal. SNAP-Education will be provided at the three stores participating in the SNAP+ pilot.SNAP+ is supported by the Minnesota Grocers Association and Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown program. Jesson announced the launch of the SNAP+ pilot Friday, June 21, at Almsted’s Fresh Market in Crystal. The event included remarks from store owner Jim Almsted and Minnesota Grocers Association President Jamie Pfuhl, as well as a healthy cooking demonstration from Ross Safford with Simply Good Eating, the University of Minnesota Extension’s SNAP-Education program. Safford demonstrated how to make a spinach and strawberry salad with a simple dressing made from oil, vinegar and Minnesota-grown honey. Throughout the pilot, SNAP-Education will teach customers at all three stores how to use local produce and build skills to change eating habits. The University of Minnesota Extension will provide education in the Crystal and Duluth locations, while the Minnesota Chippewa tribe will provide education in Cass Lake. 
 
The project is one of four initiatives planned this summer to put healthy food on low-income Minnesotans’ tables using the state’s portion of a federal bonus for increasing SNAP access for eligible residents. The Department of Human Services has also announced the Summer Backpack Program, which provides backpacks filled with healthy food and nutritional information to children age 18 and younger, and will soon launch programs to connect eligible, low-income Latino and Hmong communities to SNAP benefits, and to expand mobile food shelf capacity to provide additional food resources to seniors.
 
More information is in a news release about the SNAP+ pilot program and a news release about the Summer Backpack Program.

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