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Shaheen Helps Introduce Legislation to Combat Food Insecurity in New Hampshire

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined a group of U.S. Senators, led by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), to introduce the Expanding Access To (EAT) Local Foods Act. This bill, modelled on the successful Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA), would create a permanent grant program for state and tribal governments to procure local foods for distribution to nearby hunger relief programs, increasing access to locally-sourced, fresh, healthy food in underserved communities and helping local farms grow their markets.   

“As communities across New Hampshire continue to be impacted by food insecurity, I’m glad to help introduce the EAT Local Foods Act,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bill would make key investments in our local food systems and producers, which would help strengthen our food supply chains and ensure Granite Staters in need have access to healthy, nutritious food.” 

During the COVID pandemic, Congress made $900 million available for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) food purchasing efforts through the LFPA. This program helped strengthen local and regional food systems, improved agricultural supply-chain resiliency and supported underserved producers and communities. Using LFPA funds, states set up approved programs to purchase food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination, which was then distributed through food banks, pantries and other food distribution centers where hungry families in need can receive food. New Hampshire has received nearly $2 million from this program, which has been used to support mobile food pantries throughout the state.

The LFPA is scheduled to sunset once the $900 million in one-time funds are expended. The EAT Local Foods Act would codify the program into law, providing permanent funding to ensure the program continues, thus investing in local food distribution and combatting food insecurity. 

The EAT Local Foods Act is supported by a wide range of farmers, food hubs, coalitions and business networks from across the country, including the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the National Center for Frontier Communities, the Wallace Center at Winrock International, and more. 

Along with Shaheen and Reed, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Laphonza R. Butler (D-CA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), John Fetterman (D-PA) and Peter Welch (D-VT). 

Senator Shaheen has fought to ensure Granite Staters are able to access the nutrition they need. In March 2023, Shaheen called on the State of New Hampshire to swiftly leverage all available federal resources to bolster enrollment in federal nutrition programs and combat food insecurity in New Hampshire. Last month, after reports that the State of New Hampshire was uncertain of its participation in the Summer EBT program, she led the NH Congressional delegation in urging the Secretary of Agriculture to work with the State of New Hampshire to make the state’s participation workable so the approximately 39,000 eligible Granite State children could access the federal resources. During the pandemic, Shaheen successfully led bipartisan negotiations to provide $13 billion in nutrition assistance in the emergency COVID relief legislation that was passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2020. In that measure, she secured a six-month increase to individual Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, $400 million to support food banks and food pantries and $175 million for senior nutrition services including Meals on Wheels, among other important provisions, such as expanding the Pandemic-EBT program to cover families with children younger than age six. She has repeatedly led calls to strengthen nutrition assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. She urged the USDA to expand SNAP participants’ access to the SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot Program, and she helped introduce legislation that would implement SNAP online purchasing.