Healthy Food and Healthy Hearts

Feb 18, 2014 | Updated Apr 19, 2014

It's hard to compete with love and chocolate on Valentine's Day. The health benefits of both a loving partner and dark chocolate are well-documented. But this Valentine's Day, hearts across the country, and especially in our food deserts, will get an extra boost in the form of President Obama's recently signed Farm Bill.

On February 4, and after a three-year delay, the Agricultural Act of 2014, better known as "The Farm Bill," was signed into law. The Farm Bill includes $125 million for the Healthy Food and Financing Initiative (HFFI) to help bring healthy food to the 30 million Americans that currently do not have access to it. HFFI will be housed at the Department of Agriculture and will bring millions of dollars in grants, loans, and tax credits to healthy food projects in underserved communities across the country. The Farm Bill also includes $100 million for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program to provide financial incentives for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables over the next five years.

Unfortunately, the Farm Bill also includes a real heart-breaker: cuts of $8.6 billion to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next 10 years. Families who are already struggling to put food on the table will suffer greatly when these misguided cuts take effect.

But today is about appreciation, and for those of us who have been working to bring healthy food to underserved communities, it's heart-warming to know that Congress listened and the president responded.

Happy Valentine's Day.