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Judicial Watch • $16.8 Mil to Give Poor Minorities “Culturally-Appropriate Fruits and Vegetables”

$16.8 Mil to Give Poor Minorities “Culturally-Appropriate Fruits and Vegetables”

$16.8 Mil to Give Poor Minorities “Culturally-Appropriate Fruits and Vegetables”

OCTOBER 15, 2015

The Obama administration is spending $16.8 million to provide low-income residents— already getting food stamps from the government—with healthier meals, especially “culturally-appropriate fruits and vegetables.”

It’s part of the First Lady’s costly effort to eradicate “food deserts,” area’s with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. The administration has spent a fortune on this cause and there seems to be no end to the cash flow. The money is mostly doled out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is charged with carrying out Michelle Obama’s $4.5 billion law to provide affordable healthy fare such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk in neighborhoods determined by the administration to be “food deserts.” The ultimate goal is to revolutionize the inner-city diet by providing fresh government-subsidized produce and grilled lean meats as alternatives to greasy, fried foods that tend to be more popular in those areas, presumably because they’re cheaper.

This month the USDA announced that it is investing $16.8 million to help food-stamp recipients increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables. In this particular allocation the agency is emphasizing the importance of providing “culturally-appropriate fruits and vegetables for a target group of consumers.” The agency reveals that it’s part of a Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program created by the 2014 Farm Bill, but it’s clearly part of the First Lady’s push to get low-income minorities to eat healthier. “Eating healthy foods makes a difference to an entire family’s health and ability to learn, work and enjoy life,” said Obama’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The money will go to “underserved communities” and here are a few examples of the types of projects that our tax dollars are funding this round; programs that provide incentives to increase the purchase and consumption of fruits and vegetables by food-stamp recipients; programs that test innovative or promising strategies that would contribute to our understanding of how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by food-stamp recipients; develop innovative benefit redemption systems that can be replicated or scaled. It’s anybody’s guess what all this really means, but we do know it will cost nearly $17 million.

It doesn’t matter to the administration that this pricey government initiative to change the nutritional habits of poor minorities is failing miserably. In fact, an academic study published last year found that it’s a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. The probe focused on Philadelphia, an area that’s received a large chunk of cash to eradicate “food deserts.” Besides getting money from the First Lady’s measure, the area has also received generous grants from a $15 billion fund tied to the president’s disastrous healthcare law as well as stimulus money to combat obesity. The funds have helped build new markets and added healthy food options to convenience stores in the city’s low-income neighborhood.Nothing has changed, however. Residents of the underserved areas are no healthier after getting their government-funded fruits and veggies, the study found. After six months, there was no significant improvement in the body-mass index of local residents or in their consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to the academic researchers. The extensive probe considered more than 1,000 Philadelphia residents who lived in areas once considered food deserts because there were no affordable healthy things to eat. Uncle Sam’s lofty investment made no difference, but hasn’t stopped the cash from rolling in.

This hasn’t put a dent in the cash flow, though. Last year Judicial Watch reported that the USDA dedicated $31.5 million to “create projects that increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers” that already get food stamps from American taxpayers. Besides boosting fruit and veggie consumption in the inner-city, the allocation funded programs that test strategies to help “our understanding of how best to increase the purchase” of these healthy items by food-stamp recipients.


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