( Fair Food Network )

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Fair Food Network has hired apple industry veteran Mark Nicholson as its policy director.

Nicholson, a third-generation apple farmer, co-led Red Jacket Orchards, Geneva, N.Y. , where he spearheaded the development of value-added products to increase revenue.

With more than two decades of experience in national agriculture policy, Nicholson was chairman of the board of the U.S. Apple Association and also was a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee. He spent his early career at the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, according to a news release.

“We are excited for Mark to join us in this role where he will help lead our state and federal outreach and policy work,” Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network founder and CEO, said in a news release. “He brings proven legislative experience plus real work insights that will ground his work developing strong and diverse collaborations for win-win solutions like healthy food incentives.”

Fair Food Network, launched in 2009, creates healthy food incentives for consumers through the Double Up Food Bucks program, according to the release. The program matches what Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients spend on fresh fruits and vegetables.

The program started at five Detroit farmers markets, and now is available at more than 250 grocery stores and farmers markets in Michigan. More than 25 states offer their own Double Up programs modeled after Michigan’s effort.

“I understand firsthand the myriad issues that family farmers and agriculture businesses face,” Nicholson said in the release. “This background drives my passion to find solutions that work for farmers as well as American families to ensure strong, resilient communities.”
Nicholson is based in Washington, D.C., according to the release.


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