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RHODE MAP

A creative idea for offering fresh food to low-income Rhode Islanders

The Nourish Rhode Island coalition is making the case to use $25 million in ARPA funds to help put fresh food on the tables of households that rely on SNAP benefits

Shoppers choose fresh fruit to buy from Gary's Farmstand, Too in Roxbury in June 2021.Christiana Botic for The Boston Globe

Happy Wednesday! I’m Dan McGowan and I can’t wait for the “Fresh Prince” reboot. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.

Coronavirus updates

Rhode Island has a high level of transmission: 3,383.1 total new cases per 100K population in the past 7 days

Fully vaccinated: 816,821 (of about 1.1 million residents)

New cases: 4,287

Test-positive rate: 16.4 percent

Currently hospitalized: 459

Total deaths: 3,144

More stats from the R.I. Department of Health. Globe Rhode Island COVID-19 news and resources. Subscribe to our Coronavirus Next newsletter

Leading off

The Rhode Island Public Health Institute and a coalition of nonprofits and other advocates are asking state leaders to approve $25 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding to offer a 50 percent discount on fresh produce at grocery stores for residents who use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).

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The Nourish Rhode Island coalition is holding a press conference at 1 p.m. to make the case for the $25 million allocation.

A report issued last year by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank found that more than 18 percent of households in the state lack consistent access to nutritious food, and those numbers rise for Black and Latino residents, and for those with children.

The concept of offering SNAP incentives for buying nutritious food isn’t a new one, and the Rhode Island Public Health Institute already operates a mobile produce market that offers half off fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables to SNAP recipients (some farmer’s markets do this, too).

This proposal would expand those discount offers to retail grocery stores where it is far more common for SNAP recipients to shop.

Under the proposal, $22.5 million would be set aside for the program itself, $2 million would be earmarked for the technology upgrades to automatically administer the incentive, and $250,000 would go to the Department of Human Services to hire two employees to oversee the program.

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A similar proposal was introduced last year by state Senator Val Lawson, and the program would have been paid for with a new tax on sugary drinks. If the program is approved using American Rescue Plan funding, lawmakers would need to find a way to pay for it in the future. As it stands now, 144,000 Rhode Islanders receive SNAP benefits each month, including 46,000 children and 30,000 people over the age of 60. The average monthly benefit is $144.

The Globe in Rhode Island

⚓ The state Ethics Commission on Tuesday rejected a complaint claiming Governor Daniel J. McKee’s former chief of staff, Anthony J. Silva, violated disclosure requirements for a controversial piece of property in Cumberland. Read more.

⚓ A new cannabis cultivator in Rhode Island recently launched a new facility to produce and distribute premium and rare products. Read more.

⚓ Brown University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Dartmouth College were among 16 schools named in a new lawsuit that claimed they had violated federal antitrust laws and conspired with administrators at other universities to determine financial aid awards for students. Read more.

⚓ Pediatrician Dr. Beata Nelken writes that Rhode Island should cover health insurance for all children, including those who are undocumented.  Read more.

⚓ Fun story from my colleague Carlos Munoz: Kingston Turf Farms, the state’s oldest sod farm, has been busy during the pandemic as people focused on fixing up their yards while they were stuck at home. Read more.

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⚓ Anthony Nardolillo, a Rhode Island funeral director, shares his unique perspective on death, grieving, and the importance of celebrating life. Read more.

Here’s more Globe Rhode Island coverage.

Also in the Globe

⚓ My colleague James Pindell writes that in skipping President Joe Biden’s speech on voting rights in Georgia, members of his base are holding him accountable for his campaign promises in a way former president Donald Trump’s base never did. Read more.

⚓ The Biden administration is increasing federal support for COVID-19 testing for schools in a bid to keep them open amid the omicron surge. Read more.

⚓ How the Globe’s sports writers voted for this year’s class of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Read more.

Our journalism relies on support from readers like you. Please help us continue our mission with a subscription to the Globe. Here’s a special deal for Rhode Island.

What’s on tap today

E-mail events to us at RInews@globe.com.

Birthdays: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday,  send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age.

⚓ Governor Dan McKee and Health Department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott are holding a COVID-19 briefing at 10:30 a.m.

⚓ The Rhode Island Department of Education will announce $20 million in school facilities funding for Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls, West Warwick, and Woonsocket.

⚓ The Special Commission on Reapportionment (redistricting) meets at 5 p.m. to vote on House, Senate, and Congressional maps.

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My previous column

Politicians stole a magistrate’s job from Bill Trezvant 16 years ago. But Governor McKee righted a wrong by making Trezvant a District Court judge. If you missed the column, you can read it here. And all of my columns are on our Rhode Island Commentary page.

Rhode Island Report podcast

Ed Fitzpatrick talks to Marcela Betancur from the Latino Policy Institute about the priorities of Latino community in 2022. Listen to all of our podcasts here.

Boston Globe App

You can get alerts about Rhode Island news on the Globe’s app (iOS and Android). Just tap the gear icon, then “Edit Alert Settings,” and choose Rhode Island.

Thanks for reading. Send comments and suggestions to Dan.McGowan@Globe.com, or follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan. See you tomorrow.

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Dan McGowan can be reached at dan.mcgowan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @danmcgowan.