USDA Awards over $100,000 in Grants to Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council Partners to Help SNAP Participants Afford Healthy Foods
Carol Obando-Derstine of U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.’s office just alerted us to the great news about USDA awards going to Nurture Nature Center, Easton, Pa., ($56,918) and Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa., ($46,442) to help low income people who are “food insecure” access fruits and vegetables.
The Nurture Nature Center will use their funding of $56,918 to increase fruit and vegetable purchases by SNAP participants in Northampton County by holding food forums. These forums will discuss barriers to fresh food access in Northampton County neighborhoods and use incentives to increase SNAP participation at new and existing programs that deliver fresh, local produce through incentives.
Rodale Institute will use their funding of $46,442 for the SNAP Match For Local, Organic, Healthy Food In Allentown. This will incentivize the purchase of locally grown, organic vegetables and fruit with a dollar for dollar match at the point of purchase.
“At Rodale Institute, we clearly recognize the value of organic food to the families we feed. Imagine the impact of now being able to provide them with twice as much. These funds will directly support Rodale Institute’s Organic Allentown initiative, allowing us to advance our mission and significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals in the local community,” said ‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood, Executive Director, Rodale Institute.
This announcement is a part of a larger national effort by the USDA to get healthy food into “food deserts.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has awarded a total of $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 their purchase of fruits and vegetables. Recognizing that all Americans fall well short of the servings of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the grants will test incentive strategies to help SNAP participants better afford fruits and vegetables. These grants were made through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
The Secretary, who made the announcement at the Freshfields Farm market in Orlando, said, “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.” Vilsack continued, “These creative community partnerships also benefit regional food producers and local economies along with SNAP participants.”
We are thrilled that two of our Founders Team members of the Lehigh Valley Food Policy Council, Nurture Nature Center and Rodale Institute are being funded under this initiative.
USDA is funding projects in 26 states for up to 4 years, using funds from FY2014 and FY2015. Descriptions of the funded projects are available on the NIFA website.
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.
All FINI projects must (1) have the support of a state SNAP agency; (2) increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants by providing incentives at the point of purchase; (3) operate through authorized SNAP retailers; (4) agree to participate in the comprehensive FINI program evaluation; (5) ensure that the same terms and conditions apply to purchases made by both SNAP participants and non-participants; and (6) include effective and efficient technologies for benefit redemption systems that may be replicated in other states and communities.
The FINI program is authorized and funded by the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/farmbill.
SNAP — the nation’s first line of defense against hunger — helps put food on the table for millions of families experiencing hardship. The program has never been more critical to the fight against hunger. Over 60 percent of SNAP participants are children, elderly, or individuals with disabilities, and 42 percent of participants live in households in which at least one adult is working but still cannot afford to put sufficient food on the table. SNAP benefits provided help to millions who lost their jobs during the Great Recession. For many, SNAP benefits provide temporary assistance, with the average new applicant remaining on the program 12 months.