Local Businesses Provide Healthy Meals for Food Stamp Recipients

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A new bill aimed at limiting the amount of junk foods purchased using food stamps has passed the state Assembly.

While the new bill could toughen regulations, many local business have already taken steps in recent years to get those on food stamps to eat healthier.

"The food stamp program provides an ability for someone during a tough time to still eat healthy." Says Kevin Korpela, owner of Downtown Grocery in Wausau.

That's the reason Downtown Grocery wanted to take part in the state's food stamp program. As Korpela sees it, it is a way to keep people making healthy choices even when money is tight.
The reality however is that not everyone uses food stamps to buy healthy products. That is why the state assembly has passed new legislation that would require food stamp recipients to spend at least two-thirds of their monthly allotment on healthy foods. For Kevin, he already sees many families use food stamps on healthier choices.

"There are families who are looking for good nutrition for themselves that our store provides an option for those choices. " Korpella says

Marathon County Public Health Educator Amanda Ostrowski has also seen first hand that many on food stamps are seeking out fresh and healthy foods. That is why she partnered with the Wausau Farmers Market to accept food stamps.

"Three years ago you could use your food share or your EBT card at grocery stores or convenience stores to buy whatever you would like but you could not use it at your local farmers market. That was something we wanted to change." Ostrowski said.

While the proposed food stamp legislation is not popular with everyone, others believe it could be a key in reducing food stamp fraud as well as working to curb the nation's obesity epidemic. As for now, businesses like Downtown Grocery and the Wausau Farmers Market will continue knocking down stereotypes about what foods are bought with food stamp cards one vegetable at a time.