The Minnesota Nutritious Food Coalition is particularly concerned with seniors, who are often eligible for the program but do not utilize it. Only 41 percent of eligible seniors age 60 and over receive Food Support benefits, meaning that the majority of seniors do not yet have access to the nutritional options that could benefit them.
“More than 500,000 Minnesotans access Food Support benefits monthly,” said Lieutenant Governor Prettner Solon, who was instrumental in launching the coalition. “Yet, many more, particularly seniors, are eligible for the program. The guidance, work and support of this coalition will encourage more Minnesotans to take advantage of this program so they can get the nutritious food needed for a healthy lifestyle, not to mention strengthen our local economy.”
Food Support, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program formerly known as Food Stamps, does not just provide low-income Minnesotans with access to essential nutrition. It also has a positive effect on the economy, generating $1.73 of economic activity for every $1 that is spent.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services, which is responsible for the Food Support program in Minnesota, and its partners are already working to increase participation in the program and provide essential information about making healthy choices on a limited budget. The department has already taken steps to improve access to the Food Support program, such as simplifying the application and reducing restrictions on prospective participants.
The Minnesota Nutritious Food Coalition will coordinate these efforts and aid in accomplishing them. According to Lt. Governor Prettner Solon, this will provide better nutrition to more Minnesotans and benefit the state economy by creating labor and production demand. Furthermore, Food Support can now be used at many farmers markets throughout the state, making fresh produce available to program participants and supporting local producers in Minnesota.