WASHINGTON, April 1, 2015 – USDA is awarding $31.5 million in funding to local, state and national organizations to support programs that help participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) increase purchases of fruits and vegetables.

The department said the grants, funding projects in 26 states, will test incentive strategies to help SNAP participants better afford healthier foods. The grants were made through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program authorized by the 2014 farm bill.

"Encouraging low income families to put more healthy food in their grocery baskets is part of USDA's ongoing commitment to improving the diet and health of all Americans,” Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said as he announced the funding at an event at Freshfields Farm market in Orlando, Florida. “These creative community partnerships also benefit regional food producers and local economies along with SNAP participants,” he said.

FINI is a joint effort between USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the department’s Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees SNAP and has responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of the incentive projects. The awards under FINI represent a variety of projects, including relatively small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, and larger-scale projects that can last as long as four years, using funds from fiscal years 2014 and 2015. USDA will issue a separate request for applications in FY16, and in subsequent years.

Descriptions of the funded projects are available on the NIFA website.

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An evaluation of the funded projects will help policymakers determine how best to provide incentives to SNAP participants to increase healthy purchases. Priority was given to projects that develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that can be replicated, use direct-to-consumer marketing, show previous success implementing nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers with agricultural producers, provide locally- or regionally-produced fruits and vegetables, and are located in underserved communities.


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