Senator   M. TERESA RUIZ
District 29 (Essex)
Senator   RENEE C. BURGESS
District 28 (Essex)
Establishes Fruit and Vegetable Incentives Program in DHS; appropriates $3 million.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act increasing access to fruits and vegetables for individuals with limited incomes, supplementing Title 44 of the Revised Statutes, and making an appropriation.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1.       The Legislature finds and declares that:
a.         The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that, in 2020, approximately 657,320 people in New Jersey, including 175,830 children, were food insecure.  These figures mean that one in 14 individuals, including one in 11 children, lived in homes without consistent access to adequate food for everyone to live healthy, active lives.
b.       Food insecurity contributes to poor quality diets, chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, behavioral health issues, and other negative outcomes for children and families.  Further, food insecurity disproportionately affects people with low incomes and people of color.
c.         Food assistance programs, such as the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program established pursuant to the federal "Food and Nutrition Act of 2008," Pub.L.88-525 (7 U.S.C. s.2011 et seq.), are effective at significantly reducing food insecurity; however, participants report difficulty affording and accessing healthy foods.   Furthermore, fruit and vegetable consumption among such food assistance program participants is far below national dietary guidelines.
d.       Therefore, the Legislature intends to create a State Fruit and Vegetable Incentives Program to benefit people who are food insecure, as well as the State   s agricultural industry and retailers.
2.       As used in this act:
Approved food retailer    means a farmers market or farmers market retailer, grocery store, or other fresh food retailer that has been approved to participate in SNAP.
Cash-value voucher    means a form or check for a specific dollar amount that a SNAP enrollee can use to purchase fruits and vegetables approved under the program.
Department    means the Department of Human Services.
Financial incentives    means benefits, coupons, vouchers, or other forms that SNAP enrollees can use to lower the price of purchasing fruits and vegetables approved under the program.
Food insecure    means a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
"Medicaid" means the New Jersey Medical Assistance and Health Services Program established pursuant to P.L.1968, c.413 (C.30:4D-1 et seq.).
"NJ FamilyCare" means the NJ FamilyCare Program established pursuant to sections 3 through 5 of P.L.2005, c.156 (C.30:4J-10 through C.30:4J-12).
Program    means the Fruit and Vegetable Incentives Program established pursuant to this act.
SNAP    means the New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program established pursuant to the federal    Food and Nutrition Act of 2008,    Pub.L.110-246 (7 U.S.C. s.2011 et seq.).
3.       a.   There is established in the Department of Human Services a Fruit and Vegetable Incentives Program to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among food insecure individuals with limited incomes.  In order to effectuate the goals of the program, the department shall establish, and collaborate with, an authorized network of program providers to distribute:
(1)     financial incentives to eligible SNAP enrollees to purchase approved fruits and vegetables at authorized food retailers when the enrollee uses SNAP benefits at the authorized food retailer; and
(2)     cash-value vouchers, via health care providers, health educators, community health workers, or other health professionals, to eligible SNAP enrollees that may be redeemed for approved fruits and vegetables at an authorized food retailer when the individual distributing the voucher determines that the enrollee is food insecure or has a qualifying health condition, as defined by the department.
b.       In administering the program, the department shall:
(1)     collaborate in the development and implementation of the program with other State agencies that have missions and programs that closely align with the program, including the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture;
(2)     establish an authorized network of program partners, including, but not limited to, authorized food retailers, government agencies, health care systems, and nonprofit organizations.   In establishing a network of program providers pursuant to this paragraph, the departme