To help improve the consumption rate of healthy food options by low-income families, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced a series of grants to encourage the purchase of fruits and vegetables. A total of 24 grants totaling $21 million will assist participants of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to increase the consumption of fresh produce by providing incentives at the point of purchase.
The funding for the grants has been authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill to come from the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program. FINI is a collaboration between NIFA and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. The program combines the abilities of industry members from various sectors of the food system to improve the overall health and nutrition of SNAP households. FINI helps support a wide variety of small pilot projects, community programs, and large-scale initiatives.
A California group has been awarded a grant totaling $623,430 to further the efforts of providing more healthy food options for SNAP families. The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) has received a grant for the purpose of expanding the Double Up Food Bucks California program.
Expanding access for low-income households to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables also increases economic opportunities for farmers. Increasing the purchasing power of SNAP participants in places like farmers markets can help to increase overall consumption of fresh produce.
“We are encouraging low-income families to choose affordable and healthy food options to feed their families. NIFA has on ongoing commitment to improve the diet and health of all Americans,” Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower said in a press release. “At the same time, the program helps growers take advantage of direct marketing and other opportunities to bolster their sales thereby improving their bottom line.”