The National Institute of Food and Agriculture plans to make up to $31.5 million in competitive grants available to promote consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients.

U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack announced the plan Sept. 29 in Richmond, Va., with Virginia first lady Dorothy McAuliffe.

The effort is part of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, a new farm bill program. Details about applying for the grants are online. A web seminar for potential applicants is set for 2 p.m. EST Oct. 2. Once recorded, it can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/mo5bpmd. Applications are due Dec. 15.

Funded projects will test community-based strategies that contribute to understanding how to increase purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of sale, backed by benefit redemption technologies.

The program is a joint effort between NIFA and USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, which will evaluate incentives. NIFA will give priority to projects that:

 

  • Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants;
  • Test strategies to increase purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants;
  • Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled;
  • Use direct to consumer marketing;
  • Design and implement nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and producers, and;
  • Provide locally- or regionally-produced fruits and vegetables.

 

“Public-private partnerships with nonprofit organizations and other community groups are already proving to have great success across the country,” Vilsack said in a news release. “These resources will allow partnerships like these to help even more families.”