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Gilroy’s Man in the House Jimmy Panetta Written By Robin Shepherd G ilroy forms the northeastern tip of the 20 th Congressional District, which comprises Monterey and San Benito counties and parts of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. This is Jimmy Panetta’s turf, and he wants Gilroyans to know he’s their man in the U.S. House of Representatives. The issues he is currently tackling on Capitol Hill will have direct bearing on the economic, social, and cultural future of Gilroy, and ultimately, of South County. For two of these issues—agriculture and immigration—the outcomes are inter- twined. Congressman Panetta is highly focused on both. Growing the Food, Feeding the Hungry Congressman Jimmy Panetta on tour of Arteaga’s Food Center with owner, Lupe Lopez (top) and speaking to committee for Double Up Bucks program in May (above). 26 GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN During his April visit to Gilroy, Panetta toured Arteaga’s Food Center. Arteaga’s is participating in a healthy food incentive pilot program called Double Up Bucks. The program is helping low-income families put healthy food on the table while at the same time promoting California-grown produce. The program supports those eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly referred to as food stamps. SNAP has provided critical support to millions of adults and children who struggle with food insecurity, often going to work, to school, and to bed hungry. According to Panetta, who is a member of the House Agricultural Committee, “We are keeping an eye on this program locally, and nationally. President Trump is proposing a 21 percent cut to the USDA budget. We’ve got the Farm Bill coming up in 2018, and eighty percent of that bill is dedicated to SNAP, which offers nutrition assistance to people in need while providing economic benefits to communities.” The Double Up Bucks program is funded by grants from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI), which operates in conjunction with SNAP. “I want to make sure that not only consumers have access to fresh, California-grown fruits and vegetables, but also the farmers and farm workers who grow and harvest this produce, so they and their families can stay healthy,” Panetta said. Congressman Panetta toured Arteaga’s Food Center with store co-owner and President Alonzo Lopez. “He wanted to see firsthand how the program works,” Lopez said. “It’s a win-win for customers eligible for the SNAP program and for California farmers. It’s also a win for our business when peo- ple come back to buy more. The program is going well. I would love to see it continue.” On any given day, a SNAP-eligible customer can spend up to $10 on California-grown fruits and vegetables and get a $10 coupon for a future purchase of any produce in the store. The program is coordinated by SPUR, a Bay Area non- profit, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food JULY/AUGUST 2017 gmhtoday.com