Representative Subeck Introduces “Healthy Alternatives” Bills to Improve Nutrition Education and Access



MADISON – Today, Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) will introduce a pair of bills to address access to nutrition education and healthy foods, particularly among FoodShare participants. Introduction of the “Healthy Alternatives” package coincides with a hearing held today by the Public Benefits Reform Committee on AB177, a Republican proposal that would place significant new restrictions on what FoodShare participants could purchase through the program. In a ridiculous effort to micro-manage the lives of those who are already struggling, Republicans based their proposed restrictions on the Women, Infants, and Children supplemental program, ignoring the fact that the list of foods provided by WIC is designed to provide very specific supplemental nutrition only to pregnant or breastfeeding women and children under the age of 5.


The USDA provides recommendations for improving health and nutrition outcomes and specifically recommends against the kind of restrictions proposed by Republicans. In fact, the USDA has researched and implemented pilot programs, finding that providing nutrition education and increasing access to fresh and healthy food produces better nutrition outcomes than restricting what FoodShare participants may purchase through the program.


“We heard hours of testimony today making it clear that limiting options for FoodShare participants is not the right way to improve health outcomes,” said Representative Lisa Subeck. “I have no doubt that AB177 is nothing more than a mean-spirited attempt by Republicans to score political points at the expense of our most vulnerable neighbors in need. That is why I am introducing these “Healthy Alternatives” bills focused on access to nutrition education and healthy foods.”


The first bill (LRB 2241), will expand access to nutrition education among individuals and families participating in the Food Stamp Employment and Training program by including nutrition classes as permitted activities to meet FSET participation requirements.. The second bill (LRB-2335), targets “food deserts” by providing incentives to grocers who sell fresh foods and produce to locate in low-income neighborhoods and other underserved areas.   


“Including Nutrition Education as an eligible work activity to meet work requirements just makes sense. This legislation creates an incentive for healthy eating. Incentives are a proven mechanism to improve healthy eating as demonstrated by the Senior Farmers Market Voucher Program—a long standing State funded program that encourages eating Wisconsin grown foods. Nutrition education programs provide valuable information and encourage healthy eating. Anyone concerned with hunger, malnutrition or obesity could benefit from a Nutrition Education program.” Sherrie Tussler, the Executive Director of Hunger Task Force


“Instead of adding new roadblocks for families and seniors already struggling to put food on their tables, let’s focus on better outcomes through nutrition education and access to nutritious fresh foods,” said Rep. Subeck. “These ‘Healthy Alternatives’ bills put the focus right back where it needs to be – on better nutrition outcomes for FoodShare participants.”